- Praise God
- Please be praying...
- What Every Church Needs to Know about Marketing: Final Thoughts: If you don't pass the people test, nothing else matters
- What Every Church Needs to Know about Marketing: Part 3: Marketing is about People
- What Every Church Needs To Know about Marketing: Part 2: Marketing is Everything
- Getting Your Current Members to Invite Friends
- Through the eyes of a visitor
- Encouraging progress
- Please be praying
- Bootstrap Faith
- Know Our Hearts?
- Seldom Read But Always Evaluated
- Creating an Experience
- The Bond Between Music and Design
- The Church Exposed
- The Value Principle
- The Nike Effect: Part II
- The Nike Effect: Part I
- Starting New This New Year
- Christmas Revelation from Charlie Brown
- The Video: Speaking Starbucksian
- And The Winners Are...
- The Video: A Treasure Hunt
- The Video: We're Not Like That Church Down The Street
- The Video: Signs of Neediness
- The Video: Death to Papyrus and Comic Sans!
- The Video: Inconsistent Artwork
- A Thanksgiving Thought
- The Video: The Culture Crime
- The Video: Reserved for Barista
- The Video: Real Men Love Java
- The Video: Marketing is more than you realize
- The Video: The purpose of the video.
- What If Starbucks Marketed Like the Church? A Parable.
- re-Branding on Momentum
Following up on my last post, when you’re hanging with the masses, one thing you should keep in mind: they aren’t going to clearly say profound things about what drives them. People don’t normally talk in a straightforward manner about the real, deep-rooted issues that actually control their decisions about life or church—aka what they are really thinking. You’ve got to learn to interpret what you do get from them. The Mountain Dew Mandate (mingling with the masses) can be broken down into the following examples:
1. Your church normally reaches a lower-middle class crowd (good people, unpretentious, but just not the "Joneses") but many middle to upper-middle class people are moving into the community and you feel that God has called you to reach them. Mingling with the masses might just be having your leadership go out and play more golf. I’m serious! Of course they shouldn’t go out as a group together, but individually spending time with members of that crowd in a place where they are found to be comfortable. You want the country club group? You have to go where they are in order to learn from them. You might feel a little weird and awkward at first, but over time, you’ll feel more comfortable and gain much insight. If you listen long enough, they will reveal how to reach them.
2. Your church is mostly middle class and you really would like to be more effective in reaching a much lower class part of your area. Spending time with the masses might mean a couple of trips to the unemployment office. There you could observe and gain insight into their experience and viewpoint. Some other options could be spending time at stores you don’t normally go to. When you’ve done all of that, you’ll have an understanding of their mind-set and your target can be geared toward connecting with them.
This research is valuable in the concept of becoming as one to win one. You will gain more understanding by watching them in their element than you could by reading about them or asking them directly. You’ll understand their underlying struggles and victories. Mountain Dew didn’t read the book about their target audience—they wrote it from experience.
© Richard L. Reising
The other day I saw someone drinking a Mountain Dew. My initial thought was “people still drink that stuff??” Then my mind wandered to Mountain Dew’s prime time. Does anyone remember how Mountain Dew completely dominated the extreme sports craze? This started in the late eighties and nineties. Mountain Dew sponsored pretty much every skate park tournament that was out there. If something “extreme” was happening, they were totally involved. Their promotional advertising was all about the “Been there! Done that!” theme. They basically created the “wild man slacker” culture that so defined the mid to late nineties. It was extremely successful for them.
The most fascinating part about it is how they created their connection with that generation. The Mountain Dew brand was purchased in the mid-60s from Pepsico and their sales were low for several decades. However, their marketing research process for their huge launch in the 80s was phenomenal—it created the foundation for their brand.
Mountain Dew plunged into the minds of a generation by lingering with the masses. They basically hired a group of college-age kids to put on Mountain Dew gear and go to some local high school campuses in black Hummers decked out Mountain Dew style. These were their tasks:
1. locate the popular, trendsetting teens
2. give them free stuff and ask them to hang out at the Hummer
3. take as many notes as they could on everything they said, did and wore.
The end result: learn what the coolest kids in school thought was cool—what was the new cool thing. What Mountain Dew did was amazing—they observed teens in an anthropological way. They paid close attention to the kids who were early adopters—cutting-edge leaders and trendsetters. Those influencers were the ones who always seemed to be ahead in hairstyles and clothing choices—introducing them before they became the popular thing to wear. The cool teenagers at the time had one thing in common that Mountain Dew milked for all it was worth: a respect for the lack of fear.
When you reach the leaders, you reach the followers. Who are you studying? How can you dedicate more of your time to learning what drives people? How can you convert that to influencing others for Christ?
It's time to mingle with the masses. We can't keep our light hidden. It's a mandate.
© Richard L. Reising
In my last post I talked about Jesus being an aerobics instructor, as well as asked us to become the master aerobics teacher. On a more serious note, remember Jesus’ ministry to the multitudes? It is the perfect comparison for the beginner, intermediate, and advanced aerobics classes.
The Beginner Class
Jesus challenged the five thousand with stories and parable and gave them physical food as well. The miracle with the fish and bread was the home run for them. Jesus was inspiring and reached them in the upper deck. This was like a beginning aerobics class. You know, where it’s pretty surface, but still a fairly good workout. The beginner class is the least embarrassing to go to and you usually drag your friend along. If you’re an experienced attendee, and you really want your friend to go, you’re not going to make them go to the advanced class with you. You’ll go to the beginning class for a couple of weeks and stand by their side.
The Intermediate Class
Jesus went across the lake and not all of the multitude followed, but many did. Those were the ones that took the next step, committing more and moving to the lower deck. Jesus taught them there and increased the depth of His ministry. This can be compared to the intermediate class. Many commit to move forward in their aerobics ability, but not everyone will. This might be what you would go to after you feel like you’ve conquered your beginner class and still want to get a good workout.
The Advanced Class
Many lingered after Jesus walked across the lake and it was time for Him to see who would move from the lower deck to the playing field. His next sermon topic was about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. Those were deep, spiritually discerning, inner-court words that only His lifers (disciples) could handle.
Jesus adjusted his ministry based on whom He wanted to connect with at the time. He found people where they were, ministered to them and challenged them toward the next level. He had different topics and preaching styles for different audiences and He put Himself in their shoes. He knew where they were and spoke on their level in accordance. It’s kind of like the stadium principles that I talked about.
Think about it. How can you reach people at all levels?
© Richard L. Reising
Everyone who knows me knows I’m a thinker. My brain is constantly going and you can always tell by the look on my face. My mind often wonders over to really random and sometimes bizarre things like aerobics. I am a little overweight--depending I guess on which city I am in. In Paris, I was the fattest guy on the street. At home in Dallas, I feel pretty good about myself. When I was faced with the dilemna of getting back in shape, the risk of showing up for the wrong class struck me--maybe not too unlike what people feel when they decide they need to be in church for the first time in a long while.
At my gym, I was pleased to find separate classes for beginnners, intermediate and advanced. What a novel concept. What if we could do that in church? Wouldn't that remove a lot of intimidation for the visitor? Wouldn't it be the goal to reach someone where they currently were and progress them to the next level or class?
Is that not a mirror of the Gospel? That Jesus meets us right where we are but does not stop challenging us to grow? Step by step. faith by faith. Precept upon precept.
How lousy would I feel if I walked into a "one size fits all" aerobics class and could not keep up? Would I come back? No way.
As a pastor, I am sure you are wishing you could just have different services: for beginners, intermediates and advanced Christians. Many churches are actually doing that. Different services are casting nets at different levels. But suppose you can't do that and you were left with one "class" to teach all levels. How would you connect with the spiritually "unfit" and still challenge the advanced crowd?
Ok, imagine that you are an aerobics instructor. I know, I know…it’s a stretch (pun intended). But seriously, imagine if you were an instructor who held regular workout classes and wanted to see growth—meaning, more people working out and being pushed to the next level, but you had to train them all in one class.
So how would you hold your class? If you cared about the people, you would start by explaining all the aspects of the class and communicating that beginners should not feel obligated to overdo; nor feel intimdated if they cannot follow along. You would make sure there were some "light" exercises just for them. You would let them know they are welcomed and give them grace to join in at their own pace. You wouldn’t just yell at everyone. You wouldn’t tell them that they are not doing a good enough job—people would feel terrible about their progress and not return. Your heart is to see people move up the highest level, but that is done one affirmed step at a time.
If Jesus was an aerobics instructor, I’m pretty sure that’s how He would do it. (By the way, I think He would be the best aerobics instructor ever). Seriously. What do you think?
© Richard L. Reising
This is the third installment in The Stadium Principle. Let’s finish this off.
After many years of playing, usually someone with great talent develops—from little league to college to the big leagues. Picture a rising star with me. He’s like a Nolan Ryan or a Roger Clemens. He’s Randy Johnson. Ok, imagine it’s the bottom of the ninth inning at game seven of the World Series. We’re talking intense—the President of the United States threw out the first pitch, Grammy-award winner sang the national anthem like you’ve never heard it before, the game has been back and forth, back and forth. Bottom of the ninth and everything is on the line. Randy’s on the pitcher’s mound and it’s the moment of a lifetime for him. All of the years or little league and college ball have built up to this. Randy has lived baseball—eaten, drunk, and slept baseball. His friends love the game and they love how he plays the game. Bottom of the ninth—it’s a full count, two outs, one strike and we win. People are tuned in around the world watching this.
Do you think Randy Johnson, at this moment, remembers what it feels like to not care about baseball? Do you think he’d be able to relate to someone who has never been to a game at this moment? Just like Randy, do you think pastors who have lived church—eaten, drunk, and slept church—with friends who love God and admire them…do you think they remember what it’s like to be a stranger to church and to not know God? Do you think most pastors routinely remember what it’s like to hear about Jesus for the first time? It is almost counterintuitive. After all, as church leaders, we spend most of our time with church folk.
I say this in prayer that we never forget what is going on in the hearts and minds of those people in the upper deck. Those are the most overlooked and least connected with. It’s easy to pitch for the lower deck—they are the cheers we hear the loudest. A good pitcher learns how to make the game great for people at all levels of the stadium. God give us a heart for the upper decker and allow us to never forget the first time we heard the crack of the bat.
© Richard L. Reising
Last time I gave a baseball analogy and talked about how I went from making fun of the baseball freaks to actually becoming one. I talked about the fact that I didn’t get there overnight. It was gradually through baby steps. I went from hating the game, to giving in and actually going to a game, to discovering that baseball might even be enjoyable, to going back to another game, to buying season tickets, and joining a softball league.
These baby steps could be paralleled to many people’s experience with the church and accepting Christ. I thought I would never set foot in a church until my friend pleaded and I gave in. I sat there feeling empty and full all at the same time. It was obvious to me that there was something more and when the pastor spoke, it was like that home run—in my heart. His words inspired me and I returned.
Later, I committed my life to Christ and I found myself more and more sold out. I was investing more--paying more for my seats. I wore the Christian t-shirt and I had the leather Bible. God was working in my heart and people began to see a change in me. I joined the church and solidified my commitment.
One day, as I was growing, God called me out to the playing field. I now find myself serving any time that I can. I can’t wait to see all of my friends and family come to know Christ.
Sometimes, like Paul, God completely knocks you off your horse and you go from disconnected outside of the ballpark to the playing field in a very short time. Unfortunately, this is not the case most of the time. It’s a matter of progression over time. During that time, God works in our hearts and minds to change our perception. Now I am not saying we are not all immediately called to be witnesses, I am saying that we grow and progress in our walk with Christ at different rates, but in similar stages.
So what can we, as a church, do to help those outside the ballpark make it to the upper deck? What about the upper-deckers moving to the lower deck? How do we challenge the lower deck to get on the playing field and be part of the team?
I’m sure you’ve seen the parallel that I’ve made by now and I pray that you understand I am not belittling the church with this illustration. My heart is simply to understand that perceptions are quite varied in our churches. Whether it’s unbelievers, or scholars, we’ve got to learn to reach people right where they are and motivate them to the next level. Are you thinking about that every week as you prepare your messages? Make it so.
© Richard L. Reising
A scenario: ok, you and I are good buddies. You are the world’s biggest baseball fan. I am on the other end of the spectrum. I can’t think of a more boring game than baseball. I’ve never even been to a game before, but I am absolutely convinced that I wouldn’t like it. You ask me constantly to come with you and I can’t wait until you’ll stop asking, but one day I give in to your request in the midst of a weak moment.
So I’m going to this game with you, but you are most definitely buying my nosebleed ticket that’s approximately $2 and my hot dog as well. We sit in the upper deck on a blazing hot day—you’re completely happy and I’m pretty much in agony. I’m eating my hot dog and slurping my drink when suddenly, the home team knocks one out of the park. We jump up and high-five each other! I’m totally caught off guard. Somehow the hit inspired me and I’m thinking that maybe I like baseball after all. Not what I expected at all. I might have actually enjoyed a baseball game.
Of course you ask me to go again and I surprisingly commit. This time I’ll buy my own ticket and hot dog. I’m willing to spend that much, but not enough to sit in the lower deck with the $80/seat baseball freaks. They are just a bit much for me at this point. Although I like baseball, my commitment is minimum.
After returning for a couple of games in my cheap upper deck seats, my passion for baseball builds. Now, the $80 seats don’t seem so expensive and I could even catch a foul ball down there. I find myself decked out in all the gear—hat, jersey, leather glove, the works. I’m a sold out fan. I push it even further by getting season tickets. I want to make sure I don’t miss a single inning. People at work now know me as one of those baseball freaks and I’ve even joined a softball league. I plan on coaching my kids’ softball team.
The thing is, I didn’t get here overnight. I got here with baby steps. Something to think about and chew on for a few days. Were you ever the person who hated a particular thing and made fun of the so-called “freaks”? Paul was. And even he spent a short season getting prepared for the transition from onlooker to first baseman.
© Richard L. Reising
Everyone has a blog. I never wanted one. I am not a big fan of the value of "opinion". Research, data, theory... those things get me excited, but not the concept of people venting what "they think". Perhaps I was running across the wrong blogs. As a result, I thought I had found a definitive scripture that was written by Solomon that was a prophetic word about future blogging: Prov 18:2 "A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions."
I wrestled with God for some time on that. I do not want to be a venter or a philosophizer (Zoolander word). I desire to see real change and shine the light on the dynamics of growth that have alluded the church. That is my purpose as a person. It would seem blogging would be a waste of time. This was my case and I had pleaded it with God (and my co-workers) for years.
In my day to day life, I get to work with pastors and church leaders and help them solve the problems that effect health and growth. It is incredible to see what God does. We see a church that had once plateaued, now growing at 30%, we see the church that was dwindling become revitalized, and we see the the growing church become more effective and strategic. I am blessed. I love my life.
It’s a passion of mine to call to attention the granular realities that produce long-term, sustainable growth--the things we explore as we travel the globe serving pastors. My heart is to join the pastor and his leadership—to offer them solutions in their struggle to fulfill their God-given visions.
Then one day it hit me. That could be the purpose behind my...
And that’s why I’m starting a blog.