Sunday, November 08, 2009

Reigniting a Holy Brand!

Several years ago, I wrote this article talking about the importance of “re-branding” the local church in our communities. At first, people did not know what to make of using such secular terms to discuss the more holy avenues of our lives. But, once they got past the terminology, they understood the point of the article--- the church must re-invent itself if it is to be successful in the future.

A recent article in the magazine, Fast Company, said the same of business. If a business does not learn the language, the likes, the dislikes, the worries, fears, dreams, and habits of those they are trying to attract as customers, it cannot succeed. The consumer base is too fickle with a memory that is very short-term.

So what about the Church? What distinguishes us from EVERYTHING ELSE THAT A PERSON COULD BE DOING ON SUNDAY MORNING? Or, what would make a person choose being involved in the life of the church versus being involved in any other social network or organization.

After all, there is a web experience for almost every aspect of the traditional church life now. You can worship online, be in Bible study online, find serving opportunities on line and offer your prayers or receive counseling online. Christianity Today even highlighted a new website that allows you to make your confessions online. Talk about one stop shopping!

And, the articles discussed what any organization in our modern world needs for energizing its core. The church is no different, though most of our congregations are stuck in old patterns that lead to little or no real change. To put it mildly, most churches are spiritually anemic and nothing saddens me more.

The following are my takes on what these articles concluded were necessary to re-ignite the “holy brand” of our local church and to help us reach beyond the walls for the unchurched and dischurched of our community. They are only my “take” on a broader, tested Biblical concept that speaks volumes in how congregations can reignite their core passions and live faithfully into the future for their communities and world.

Principle One: Passion is Personal. Nothing substitutes for people believing that what they do or who they are means something (John 2: 12-22). Passion inspires vision; vision inspires mission; mission inspires results. What are you passionate about today? What in the life of your church challenges you to get out of your comfort zone and reach those outside the walls of our congregation?

Principle Two: Word of Mouth Still Works Best. In a culture that relies on more and more impersonal means of communication, the most effective forms are still personal and direct. One on one” interaction trumps mass communication when seeking to provide long term effects. The woman at the well knew the teachings, but it was Jesus knowing her that changed her life forever. In what ways are you providing positive “word of mouth” witness to your friends and relatives about the life of GBUMC? Or… goodness forbid… have your words done more to tear down the ministry of the church you love?

Principle Three: Follow Me Home. Plain and simple--The closer an organization gets to those they serve, the better the organization serves. Remember, Jesus washed the disciples’ feet himself! In what ways are we “following people home” and becoming a part of their daily routines. Are we simply a visit on Sundays or another check on the “to do” list? If people were forced to narrow their lives to only three things to which they could give their time, would “church” be one of them?

Principle Four: All Success Begins Small. Even great journeys begin with one small step. Churches want too much, too quickly. Dialog, planning and purpose must always begin with people agreeing to begin at the beginning. I know this is not very poetic, but it is nonetheless true! Even Jesus’ ministry began with simple steps from the Jordan River. What are the “simple steps” we take each week to live as the “hands and feet of Jesus” in our world? How do these simple steps inspire people to know our church better and to seek a connection?

Principle Five: No Connection, No Bother. People must connect to the people and purpose of a church in order to “stick” around. No matter the excitement on the front end, people need substance not show. When we see a church with no connection, we see a church with a huge back door. Great crowds gather for meals along the shore, but the truly committed remain through the Cross. How large is the “backdoor” of our church? What can we do to close it?

Each of these principles speaks to the heart of what it means for us to grow into this next generation. Please pray for our church that we will live faithfully in these new methods while proclaiming a message that NEVER changes.

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