Salt Seasoning for a Full House
When our success at communicating is measured against the contemporary, creative and controversial, we're missing it. Like a dieter eating Milk Duds on a treadmill, we must not forget why we're communicating this greatest story ever told in the first place. Not to be contemporary for the sake of relevance. Not to be creative for the sake of recognition. Not to be controversial for the sake of climax. May we be the salt seasoning that brings out the God flavors of the earth (see Matt. 5:13), so that the house of God will be full (see Luke 14:23)!
We Want the Real Stuff
We Want the Real Stuff
Think values such as transparency, authenticity and connectedness are things of the past? Think again. The story we're communicating is beyond Photoshop and nifty Web sites. It's about connecting people to a story that they're a part of. Not for us to fill a pew, but so that Christ can fill a heart.
A recent Adweek article by Christine Champagne affirms this point about genuineness, particularly in advertising. Champagne points out the recent campaigns by Kleenex and Secret (deodorant), as well as Commit (lozenges to stop smoking). All three were taking cues from Dove with the continued success of its "Campaign for Real Beauty" that began in 2004.
Champagne suggests that reality television—in all of its transparent, confessional, cry-to-momma moments—has helped facilitate the trend in advertising toward using real people and real problems to connect with consumers.
Perhaps there's more going on here.
In her book, Mind Your X's and Y's: Satisfying the 10 Cravings of a New Generation of Consumers, Lisa Johnson suggests five essential criteria that underlie the cravings for the next generation: experience, transparency, reinvention, connection and expression.
The point here is that we're moving into a generation that is ignoring the hype. We're sick of fashion models that don't look like our friends, products that don't work the same "as seen on TV," and Christianity that fits better on a bumper sticker and a billboard rather than a Bible study.
Authenticity. Transparency. Connectedness. The list of adjectives could go on. How will you tell the story?
When a Google staffer asked Seth Godin how the company could get more people to talk about its products and services, the renowned marketing guru responded with something profoundly self-evident: "['Remarkable'] doesn't mean beautiful or ideal or perfect. It only means one thing: worth making a remark about."
Fundamentally, Christianity is viral. Aside from some extraordinary conversion experiences, it is about Jesus Christ doing something that was worth talking about. His disciples were exposed to Him, which caused them to do things worth talking about too. Is your church presenting Christ in a remarkable way? You don't have to be perfect. You don't have to be ideal. You don't have to be beautiful. But are you doing things that get the community talking? The world? Or are you just running aimlessly, hoping that your yelling to the sky will be heard?
Pastor Gary Lamb of Ridge Stone Church in Canton, Ga., recently took a Sunday off (gasp!) and blogged about lessons learned from not attending church. Some of his findings:
When you spend all your time in church, you have to constantly remind yourself that most people do something entirely different on Sunday morning. Some people work, some people stay out too late on Saturday night, some people just aren't morning people. If you want to reach unchurched people, alternative service times are a must.
Does Your Church Dream?
Does Your Church Dream?
Irving Bible Church in Irving, Texas, has a dream:
We dream of a church where people are free to attempt great things for God; where people have nothing to prove and therefore nothing to lose; where creativity and innovation are honored, not feared; where all kinds of people serve God in all kinds of ways.
More than 10 years ago the church came up with a list of what they dreamed their church would look like. These became part of a Web site introducing visitors to their church, starting with their dreams, moving into some basics of faith and finishing with basics about visiting their church.
Too often the church simply doesn't dream. We do what's adequate and move on. We never dream big, think large or imagine that just maybe God does want to do something incredible. Businesses dream and it takes them pretty far. Shouldn't we—the people of God, who have reason to expect dreams to become reality—be dreaming?
The concept behind word-of-mouth marketing is simple: If customers love your business or organization, they'll tell others. It's free advertising. It's also called customer evangelism. A blatantly religious idea has become the biggest buzz among savvy marketers. It's time churches took back the Great Commission. There's a reason God doesn't take out magazine or billboard ads (well, until recently anyway): He decided to let Christians be His walking billboards, with letters "written in our hearts, known and read by all men ... not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart" (2 Cor. 3:2-3).
God takes a certain risk that Christians will make Him look stupid (and we've certainly done that), but that risk comes with being genuine and authentic. That method has proven itself effective over the last 2,000 years.
The fact that Christians are to be evangelists for God is a no-brainer, but what we rarely realize is that Christians should also be evangelists for their church. In reality it's achieving the same purpose, but rarely do we think of our church as something worth telling others about.
Is your church worth talking about? If it's not, perhaps it's time to take a good hard look at your church's effectiveness. Make it a place worth talking about. No church is perfect, but there should be plenty of reason to be an evangelist for your church, as well as your God.