I noticed a job posting in the local newspaper Sunday that caught my attention. They are looking for a Vice President of Audience. I'd never heard of, or thought of, such a position. I guess it makes sense if you think about the significant challenges newspapers have faced the last 40 years as cultural and media changes have swept the land. Consider the place of newspapers in the 1960's (or read some history) and the growth of TV news, internet, and current news cycle. With the aging Baby Boomers, (perhaps the last newspaper subscribers?), you have a declining market with the following generations not showing much interest in the daily print media. It's a tough market!
My work is in church and community, in mission and outreach most specifically, so I'll jump to the application that intrigues me with this job description. There are plenty of parallels between the old successes and recent challenges of the newspaper industry and the last generation of the church in the United States.
As I think about building audience there are plenty of applications, and questions, that a church might consider (unless the congregation wishes to go the way of many newspapers):
How are local congregations focused and structured to intentionally reach and build audience in their community? More specifically, who are the people in the church that serve to engage the community and build your audience? What skills are expected and nurtured in members to help them build audience? What collaboration of ministry/ministries is necessary to effectively engage your community as you engage and build? How is this vital function consistently promoted and how does your church assess how members are doing in building audience? Like newspapers today, how are we redeveloping our strategy so that we maintain our focus while using new tools?
Perhaps you think of questions specific to your context as you play with this concept of building audience. Here's the job description to fuel your thoughts and discussion. The job goal is to 'become integral and indispensable in the lives of local people, resulting in much larger audiences." It sounds like a vital function that every member of a strong community church might well consider as their own job.