For many local churches, ministries and Christian nonprofits, branding and marketing can be difficult practices to grasp. Some churches use a logo that shows they haven’t thought about their ministry branding for at least half a century. Meanwhile, some youth pastors are so concerned about their ministry logo and matching T-shirts that they spend way too much time with Photoshop.
But church branding and marketing aren’t really about logos, websites, signage or even advertising. Branding merely entails communicating who you really are (or perhaps more accurately, who you’re striving to be).
Due to the dishonest nature of much marketing in our culture, some ministry leaders bristle at the thought of deliberately branding and marketing their church or programs. In reality, every church “markets,” whether they intend to or not. Ministry branding entails all the ways you communicate something about the church to people (both those who are part of the congregation already and those who aren’t). The trick is to do church branding in a way that communicates what your church is about (or again, what you’re striving to be “about”).
Best of all, you don’t need to be a marketing expert to brand your church or youth ministry. Thankfully, Jesus actually addresses the issue of how leaders can successfully brand a local church and its individual programs.
Surprised? I figured you might be. But Jesus did all that, centuries ago.
A Lesson From Jesus About Ministry Branding
Jesus actually let us know 2,000 years ago what brand his followers were supposed to use. He revealed what would let other people know that his disciples were serious about following him. Jesus may not have provided ministry branding to us in the form of a logo. But he was abundantly clear about it nonetheless:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
For Christian churches and youth ministries, that’s our brand. Those Bible verses sum up how we’re supposed to proclaim to our communities why we’re here and what we’re about. That message clearly reveals how people are supposed to know that your church is a church.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting you ditch your church logo, all those youth group T-shirts, or any billboards and advertisements. These days, all those media are part of our culture’s language. So church leaders and administrators are wise to use that language well as we reach out to other people.
But maybe we need to take more seriously the brand that Jesus gives us. Maybe we should use his advice. After all, it’s a lot better than anything we can brainstorm on our own. Plus, nothing we come up with will “wow” people as much as we hope it will.
After all, if we don’t love one another—and our communities—in ways that show people at least a glimpse of Jesus, then all the marketing in the world won’t help our local churches one bit.
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