March 2009


Church Marketing: Do You Need a Brand?

Like many of the terms that come from the secular marketing arena, the term brand can leave a bad taste in the mouth of a ministry professional. And with good reason. In the secular world, after all, brand activity is often used as makeup, covering up real flaws in a product or company. However, like we’ve seen in previous articles, there are many times when crossovers from the secular marketing world have some application in ministry. This article outlines the concept of branding and what merit it may have within the context of a church—if any at all.

Our goal at SermonView is not to shoehorn the church into worldly marketing practices, but to redeem biblical principles that have been used in the mainstream marketing world. Our fundamental goal is to increase the effectiveness of church communication. Before we head down this road of branding let’s start with a reminder as to how we define church marketing:

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I know that this is a touchy subject for many pastors.  I have been asked should we “market the Gospel of Jesus Christ?”  The answer is no but wheter we like it or not, especially in the mainline denominations, we have to do a better job of answering the question, why does this church matter?  If it were gone tomorrow would anyone miss the ministry provided here?  What ministries at this church make a difference in the lives of the people that we serve?  This is what you market. This is your brand.

When you can not answer these questions you are lost in the catagory of “church” rather than First UMC where people’s lives are transformed in the celebrate recovery group.  or Second UMC where the youth group nurtures seeking youth as they make a coomiment to Christ.

dealing-with-difficult-people-leadership-day

This is the Power Point for the workshop that I did on Dealing with Difficult People.

The Lean Church
Streamlining Your Ministry for Maximum Effectiveness
by Don Pope, Andrew Parris, and Kent Smith

Value versus waste. They may sound easy to distinguish, but if you have ever planned a garage sale with your spouse, then you understand that the distinction may not be simple.

Although some forms of waste are easy to recognize in organizations—people sitting around doing nothing, products ruined by damage or spoilage, scrapped parts, and so on—other forms of waste are not so obvious. They are silent killers of value that simply consume resources, absorb our mental energies, and block the flow of real value. These types of waste, which we’ll discuss below, are found not only in poorly managed, inefficient organizations; they have infected, to a greater or lesser extent, the activities of every organization.

But American industry is discovering that a fundamental key to competitiveness is distinguishing real customer value from waste. In fact, researchers have even coined a term—”lean”—to refer to the idea of reducing waste and making value flow. And what’s true for successful businesses is true for successful churches as well: “lean” churches are more effective at achieving their ministry goals than are other churches. How so? Let’s look first at what “lean” is all about and then demonstrate its potential for maximum ministry.

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Step 1: Specify Value
Step 2: Identify the Value Stream and Eliminate Waste
Step 3: Make Value Flow
Step 4: Respond to Customer Pull
Step 5: Pursue Perfection

 The Lean Church: Three Versions

Mission Arlington (www.missionarlington.org): Begun in 1986 by veteran missionary Tillie Burgin, their goal from the outset has been to make spiritual life and family available to the vast numbers of apartment dwellers who do not easily fit more conventional churches. Now, on any given Sunday, 3,700 people meet in some 250 small gatherings, mostly in apartments in and around Arlington, Texas. For the people of Mission Arlington, these are gatherings of their church, their spiritual family.

Over the years the church has developed an impressive array of services for people in its reach, from medical and dental care and counseling, to help with food, clothing and furniture. A simple request can lead to wide range of help becoming available. These services are seen supporting the core task of welcoming people into a true spiritual family. Mission Arlington is widely studied, and similar efforts are underway in other American cities.

Duncan Compassion Center: When the Northside and Westside churches in Duncan, Oklahoma merged to form the Chisholm Trail Church, the former Northside facility was left vacant and was seemingly useless. However, God launched a new ministry by using this old facility and some Christian physicians who had been involved in medical missions in Nicaragua. Dr. Kent King, who had been a leader in the Nicaragua mission, observed: “when we came back (to Oklahoma), we realized how great the need was here. We saw a lot of poverty in Nicaragua, but looking around Duncan, we saw a lot of poverty here as well. I am still so amazed at how God opened this door for us.”

The former worship facility was renovated, and the physicians opened a multifaceted “Compassion,” providing healthcare exams, a pharmacy, a food pantry, a clothes closet, optometry, and legal counsel to the needy. All services, including medications, are provided free to local people who lack adequate private or government health insurance. Through this Center, the gospel message is being lived-out daily and it’s reaching people who would have never heard it otherwise. (Summarized from “Missions from the Third World Come Home” by Joy McMillan, The Christian Chronicle, January, 2004).

Awakening Chapels (www.cmaresources.org): In the past five years, Awakening Chapels has planted more than 300 “organic” churches—house churches—with the number now doubling each year. These churches focus on simple, reproducible structures and target unreached “pockets of people,” mostly in America’s southwest. Founding leader Neil Cole explains:

“Most churches today are trying to figure out how to get lost people to come to church. The key to starting churches that reproduce spontaneously is to bring the church to the lost people. We’re not interested in starting a regional church, but rather in churching a whole region.

“The house church, more than any other model, is best prepared to do just that because it is informal, relational, and mobile, not financially-encumbered with overhead costs, and it’s easily planted in a variety of settings. It also reproduces faster and spreads farther because it can be a decentralized approach.” (House2House Magazine, 2002 Special Edition, p. 24)

Simple and reproducible also defines Cole’s approach to training new believers and leaders. In his book, Raising Leaders for the Harvest, he outlines principles that are now being taught across the country in an intensive training event, The Organic Church Planter’s Greenhouse.

The Burden of the Suburban Church – Bill Easum

Two other things caught my attention- when it rained hard the majority of homes on the West side of town flooded, and even though 75 percent of the city was Hispanic, all eleven city council members were Anglo. Neither of these conditions seemed right to me.

My last twenty-four years of local church ministry were spent in an up-and-coming suburban church. Like most suburbanites, many of my flock were into getting ahead, building fences around their homes, chauffeuring their children to this-and-that, and distancing themselves from the rift-raft of the world. . Most of the members were content with living lives isolated from the rest of the city and in many ways isolated from one another. I was 29 years old when I began my ministry in that church.

During those years I noticed several things about suburban Christianity and the city of San Antonio, TX. For one thing, suburban Christians thought salvation was something intensely personal and individual. It never dawned on them that biblical salvation is both individual and societal.

That all changed somewhere around my tenth year as pastor. I became involved in the Industrial Areas Foundation a community organizing effort of churches began by Saul Alinsky. Over the next decade I was to have the biggest learning experience of my life.

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This article gives great insight to the challenges and opportunities of suburban ministry.  Teaching personaly piety and societal responsibility demands a balanced approach to the scriptures and life that is often not present in many ministries.