If the church is going to reach the world with the gospel, Jesus has to become the centerpiece of the conversation. But, in some churches, the church or the pastor is the brand.
Think about it… How often do the people in your church talk about Jesus when talking to those outside the church about their faith. They talk about the great preaching, the incredible band, the relaxed dress, the children’s ministry that is really amazing, etc.
In my book, A Different Kind of Tribe: Embracing the New Small Group Dynamic, I point out that, “In business, a company must protect its brand – what sets the company or product apart from all others. Denominations and churches do the same. They may not call it protecting the brand, they may not even realize they are doing it, but they are protecting their brand.”
Whatever those who are your church talk about most to those outside the church is the church’s brand. Pastors must begin to ask themselves the following questions if Jesus is going to be the centerpiece of the church and put off branding the church’s style or the preacher’s abilities.
- In motivating the congregation, do I talk more about what the church has accomplished or what Jesus is accomplishing?
- In our sermon based small group experiences do the people in the group talk more about specific passages of scripture and what God is telling them through His Word or are they discussing phrases that I used in my sermon?
- When people speak to me about what is taking place through the church, do they thank me for the great programs of the church or do they thank me for helping them draw closer to Jesus?
- When someone comes to our church for the first time do they tell me they came because someone told them how wonderful my sermons are, the ministries of the church are, or because they have been transformed by the power of Christ through the church and that they too can be transformed because of Jesus?
- When I encourage the unchurched to come to the church I pastor, do I do so by telling what Christ is doing in our church or by telling them all the programs and cool experiences we offer?
Rick Howerton is a consultant and trainer on small groups. He is founding pastor of The Bridge Church in Spring Hill, Tennessee. He is the author of several books.