Six ways to get more attention for your ministry’s message

ministry's messageToday we live in a world inundated with messages and people clamouring for your attention. What can you do to cut through the noise? Especially when you are trying to communicate with your congregation and the wider community. One of the best ways to get more attention is to write stronger headlines and titles.

Whether you are writing a title for a sermon, a newsletter article, or a blog post, spend a few moments thinking it through. When I was thinking about titles for my book Leaders Who Last, I read something that said, “A title is a promise.” So, what are you promising with your title? Depending on what you’re writing it could be a small promise – but it needs to communicate clearly what the person reading will get.

One of the best resources I’ve found is How to Write Magnetic Headlines, an e-book from the site It’s free, though you have to register to receive it. It’s well worth it. This e-book includes more than 50 pages of recommendations. I had always hated writing headlines, and suddenly I found it easier, more creative, and fun.

Here are my six tips:

  1. Write the headline or title first.  It took me a long time to do this, but it’s a huge time-saver. If you know what the piece is about before you write it, you can dump the content much faster, and then you can edit according to the promise you made.
  1. Use numbers. (3 ways to, 4 reasons why, 5 steps to) This can make it easier to write the sermon or article, because it will focus your thinking. Just like your elementary school teacher told you, outlining helps. It also helps frame the piece for people because they know up front what they’re getting.
  1. Ask a question. “Do you want to…? Want to learn how…? Wish you could…? Wondering what to do when…?” People love answering questions, especially ones that relate to them. Plus asking a question already invites the reader or listener in. Don’t be afraid to ask! This is still a promise, as it hints at what the audience will get.
  1. Use secondary headlines. This is easy if you have numbers. It helps you as a writer and also helps the reader.
  1. Use one of the magic words/phrases: easy, free, how to, you. (See a lot more here). Of course you want to be careful. You are in ministry, not advertising. But you, like advertisers, are in the communications business.
  1. Write at least 3 headlines before you pick one. Not only is this a fun exercise for your brain, but you’ll end up with a better result. For example, the three ideas I played with for this newsletter were: .the one above, “Write Stronger Headlines and Titles” and “Cut Through the Noise.”

Now, I’m always careful to make sure I’m not promising too much or dumbing down my content. I want to be clear but not simplistic, whether I’m writing a sermon, blog post, or article. These recommendations all come ultimately from the advertising industry. Of course you will go deeper with your content. But if no one pays attention to what you are writing or speaking about, your message won’t go very far.

What’s the next piece you have to write? What’s the best headline or title for it?





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