I have been pondering this idea of “start with why” for my own ministries then it had me wondering. Does our church even know the ‘why’ of its existence? Sure there are some mission statements, but those are things that the church says it wants to be. Not really why it is there. Maybe I am thinking to hard on this, but companies who live to do their why have captured mass appeal. Maybe the church doesn’t need mass appeal.. The leaders of my faith expression sure seem to want ‘vital’ mass appeal.
The other month I was a church communications conference and had the privilege to meet Dr. Craig van Gelder. Now, Craig (cause we are close buds now) wasn’t on my radar per se, but we were both speaker peeps at this thing and he sat in on my session & I on his and we got to chatting in between times. I really enjoyed the guy.
Anyways, his main keynote went through a history of roles for the pastors of churches. It was rather fascinating to see how he broke it down. How I’ll break it down for you is this, in the earliest histories of the church the pastor was a “resident theologian” (the guy who did all the study and translation for the individual church) or maybe the “civic leader” (you see this in movies how the pastor is always one of the town leaders, or main leader). Fast forward and you get into the 20th century and the pastor role has shifted to the “pastoral counselor” (we want mainly pastoral care as well as a good sermon). But today’s church has moved into more of this “entrepreneurial pastor” role (we want a pastor who can build, and build big.. as well as give a good sermon).
All this swirled in my head as I started reading this posting by Mark Meyer on what the church can learn from business. Mark has some fine points for record, I wouldn’t argue out that they are thoughtless or anything like that. I will say, they do reflect this new culture of pastoral leadership, this ‘entrepreneurial pastor’ type.
The problem here is that many of our pastors and those who have grown up to be a pastor came into the calling with a ‘pastoral counselor’ identity. They want to give guidance and assistance to people, they were not necessarily called to build big temples and have huge audiences (though some believe they were, that’s fine). The trip here is that our congregations are stuck in some limbo that they can not name. And it is that tension that exists because people don’t know how to examine and name that cultural set up we have.
Truth be told, business is taking over way more church practices than church needs to take from business (the base of Stick Sheep, go read it!). Churches are already well versed in business world practices, they’ve been around for a few centuries or more.. not sure many businesses that can claim that. Mark’s issue & many others is just that the church doesn’t want to become entrepreneurial again..
So I’m naming it, in my own UMC we’re stuck in this in between of a culture of pastors taught to be pastoral counselor when yet, our culture is telling our congregations that we want a pastor who will come in an be an entrepreneur. It’s a real pickle to be in and has been the torture of some really great pastors.. that unfortunately were not called to an entrepreneur.
This posting originally written for Sticky Sheep
I’ve been reading this article by a Jewish Rabbi about social media, its impact on youth culture, and what the bible has to teach us about participation in social media.
(I read)”..much of the narrative element of the Tanakh as a series of facebook or twitter posts. Frequently, the biblical narratives come not in long flowing prose but in short burst – often, dare I say of less than 140 characters a passuk. One of the great joys of the brevity of the biblical narrative is that it leaves much room for commentary. We are left to guess at the motivations at the contexts. And we do.”
A couple of things I’ve gleaned from this Rabbi’s thoughts.
- Never thought of the bible as a mass of Tweets and Facebook Status Updates strung together, but when you do string that stuff together you can get a glimpse into the life of that person.
- There is an embarrassing side to sharing everything. Rabbi Ruth Abusch-Magder doesn’t get into the fear factor thing of, employers are going to look at your drinking pictures and assume you are bad, type of thing. But instead takes a bit of a higher ground in suggesting, David’s story was a bit of an over share.. Same with Abraham. Surprised didn’t mention Amnon.. <Awkward!>
- The short ‘missives’ leave a lot of room for interpretation. Sometimes we do that intentionally. But when we want to truly be understood. Or when others, more importantly, want to be understood we need to know we operate in this short text world. Instead of interpreting what the story is from folks, take that extra moment to listen more deeply and understand more clearly. That is remarkable
- Apparently this guy wasted his time.. God already did it.
“History is written by the winners” or so that quote is said. In today’s world, we might as well change that as “History is written by the players” (or those who play social media).
Makes one think of how people perceive us through our social media interactions (or the lack of interactions). We are able to write our story, but it ultimately is rewritten by those others we might call critics, customers, congregations, friends, family, & more.
Now I’m wondering what the bible has to say about texting?…
This posting originally written for Sticky Sheep
I’ve been reading one of my latest impulse book buys. “Brand Sense: Sensory Secrets Behind the Stuff We Buy” by Martin Lindstrom. It’s basically a book talking about the importance of integrating the many senses into a branding of a company/product etc. This interested me because I know that for many people the church has the potential for a rich environment. In setting up and leading many contemplative worship experiences over the past decade I have had many responses of “this reminds me so much of…” where a participant has those subconscious triggers, nostalgia kicks in, and the overall experience is elevated. They then ask a next question “how can we do this again?”
So it wasn’t so much a surprise, but a great affirmation to read up some of Martin’s thoughts on branding sense & the church.
“Without taking comparisons to religion to far, we can see the relevance of spirituality for certain aspects of sensory branding. The most memorable, savored brands of the future will be those that not only anchor themselves in tradition, but also adopt religious characteristics as they simultaneously make full, integrated use of sensory branding-period. Each fully integrated brand will boast its own identity, one that’s expressed in its every message, shape, symbol, ritual, and tradition-just as sports teams and religion do.”
Lindstrom goes on from there & weaves through the book the idea of religious integration. I don’t think he’s actually attuned to life in the church and the traditions to know what are the things that make ‘sense’ (or he is totally avoiding the religion comparisons to stay away from a potential hot button topic).
I visited with one of the new pastors in town a month or so back. He showed me the sanctuary at his brand new built church (renovated movie theater) and he called it the “main experience room.” I thought to myself, “experience?” What experience do you have here? Sure as a church you hope to have an experience where people engage God in some manner. However, what is special about the environments of the church that help people ‘sense’ God and fully engage their experience? How can the church go about emphasizing some of these branded sensory experiences? Certainly Len Sweet has been preaching his E.P.I.C. model for years which can flow into this, but for those who haven’t been listening to Len my short list.
- Smell? Incense, candles, hymnals, wood floors, etc.
- Visuals? Banners, cross, projections, cleanliness, used, robes, candles, architecture, etc.
- Touch? hugs, passing peace, fellowship, prayer book, hymnals, pews, etc.
- Taste? Communion/Eucharist etc.
- Hear? Music, sermon, screaming baby, sneezing, etc.
As the workplace goes, what is the end result you wish for consumers to experience? What are the sensory items ingrained already in the tradition of your work? How can you expand those? What are new ways to take the sensory route to branding your end experience?