- 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
I recently spent a week in the UK working on some exciting projects where I had the opportunity to spend time with a number of church leaders, as well as minister in a small country church. To me, it was exciting to see how hungry the hearts were. The state of the church in Britain is a picture of what could happen in the United States—about 90% less church attendance than what we experience. Church, over time, has been marginalized—even trivialized—in many cases due to lifetimes of unwillingness to change.
It is said that if change is happening outside your organization faster than it is happening inside, then you are falling behind. Can that be said of your church?
In my talks with friends in the UK, I was amazed by the stories they told and of the history that surrounded them at every turn. World War II was still a visual part of their lives in many parts. The buildings, the damage, the story and folklore. Many of the older generation, seeing that I was American, shared stories of the US involvement in the war and how American forces had accomplished what in many ways they could not on their own.
These older chaps had further reason for why they felt America had become a strong country so quickly... "America changes," one man told me. "In America, you are not bound by centuries of your past pulling at you and requiring you to value it, at the expense of your future." To them, America was great because it started fresh—without the past to tether its decisions to.
The past is valuable. Don’t get me wrong. But the question is this:
If you got to start fresh (from scratch) today with your church, what would you do differently? What would it look like? How would it be different? Who would it reach and why? What specific things would you do?
Second question: what is keeping you from doing these things? Does history have an unhealthy hold? Behold, God is doing a new thing (Isaiah 43:19 / DC Talk 1995).
Let 2009 be a year of change. Now, please don't throw out the needs and desires of the saints of yesteryear, include them in it. They want to reach the promised land, too. They want to see the baton of faith passed on. It is your job to enlist them. Enlisting comes from casting vision and dreaming with them—asking them for their insight and their participation—valuing their contribution. Success with walking a congregation through change is often found by reaching one hand out toward the future while using the other to reach back to who you have been. One without the other is costly.
Begin the New Year anew. We have an unchanging message—yet for us—it’s time to change.
© Richard L. Reising
Believe it or not, Christmas was even complex back in 1965. "Is there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?!" Charlie Brown's frustrated plea originated back in a day when things were even less complicated and less commercial than they are now—during a time when there were less divided families and multiple-stop Christmases than there are today.
Now, I could go off into a rant about anti-consumerism and remembering the meaning of Christmas, but instead, I’m going to just let the words speak for themselves. Linus nailed it head on. Watch the video. He even knew to tell them to dim the house lights! (shameless marketing plug)
As church leaders, let's keep it simple this Christmas. I have seen million dollar productions never accomplish what the simple reading of scripture can. Let the profound truth of Christ break through the confusion of life. We have the greatest message. We have the one message that matters. We have reason to celebrate. Great joy! He is exactly that... to all people.
May your Christmas be filled with the love that changed the world.
Luke 2: 8-14
8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
There is no doubt that Starbucks has their own language. Tall, Grande, Venti... (Let's call it Starbucksian). For the most part, churches have their own language too. Having your own language is sometimes a valuable weapon in your marketing arsenal, but yielded without planning and precision, it can be deadly to your culture. Basically, it’s a two-edged sword. On one hand, if you don’t know the language, you feel lost and on the "outside." However, if you know the language, you feel "included," special and "in-the-know."
"Code" language is a very insider thing. Many churches will ask, if insider language is a bad thing, why does Starbucks do it? Simple. They want insiders. As an outsider, you learn the secret code by ordering a drink. If you don’t know it, someone is standing right there, looking you in the face and helping you engage your transition between outsider and insider. They are there to even suggest a drink. When someone has a puzzled look on their face, you quickly hear... "Would you like something hot or cold?" "Would you like something sweet?" They are literally trained to identify a newcomer and immediately make them comfortable without any kind of embarrassment. They are "hands on" to steer you into an addictive Mocha Frappucino. After you visit about three times, you are the master. You’ve got your drink and your size down pat. You’re an insider now. The bridge to that point was built very deliberately by Starbucks themselves in an effort to create insiders. Brilliant!
Now, why is this not working so well for churches? One, most churches speak Christian-ese not as a bridge to gain insiders, but as a validation tool with other insiders. AKA: I prove my spirituality in the number of three-syllable Bible words I can say. As churches, we often make it difficult for visitors to understand our code. We don’t have interpreters waiting to greet visitors at the front door, their job solely to explain everything we intend to say. When someone does indicate they might not know our ways, many churches throw them under the bus and make a show of them—asking them to stand up, raise their hands, and fill out forms.
If the visitor tries to follow along, our insider jokes and language—the very stuff that rallies the troops and makes believers feel like they’re in the cool "in-crowd" (the “God is good.... All the time” stuff from the video)—all of those insider jokes just remind them that they’re outsiders.
What's the key? Just that: a key. It’s like a map that you need to read the key to understand the symbols. The key is a bridge. The key is an explanation. Without explanation, you leave outsiders out. Without the barista telling me what the stuff is, I’m lost. With the barista carefully explaining the coded language, I’m on my way to becoming an insider. So, insider language in itself is not the issue unless it is left to resolve with out deliberate explanation.
Make this commitment: never let a service take place where you don’t break down church vocabulary for the visitors present and tell them the story behind our inside jokes. The secret behind this is two-fold: if you commit to it, 1) you’ll build stronger bridges and 2) you’ll get tired of bringing in so much context to all your insider verbiage, that you'll cut it down to the minimum.
As a church, do you have your own language? Do your inside jokes leave an outsider feeling further outside? It’s time to build a bridge. Change your language or commit to bridge-building. Without it, your church might be good at winning over other Christians, but you will leave a lost and dying world dying to know what you’re talking about.
© Richard L. Reising