Why Your Church “Brand” Matters to Millennials
A few weeks ago I was searching for a car and went to the Honda dealership. I walked around, looking for a used car that fit within my budget and found nothing. When I asked the dealer about it, he politely informed me that Hondas hold their value—so they don’t incentivize purchases. People who want Honda cars want them because of the reputation, and they’re willing to spend more for them.
I ended up buying another brand, but I keep finding myself wishing that I had managed to find a Honda. How silly is that? What’s going on emotionally and mentally? Are these cars really that much better?
Maybe. But what’s happening in me is that I’ve been affected by their brand. Back in the old days, a brand was a mark you put on your animals to identify them. Today, the concept has evolved a bit. A brand isn’t simply your logo or marketing. Your brand is the identifying culture around your business, organization, or person. It’s the unique thing that makes you, you.
You may be uncomfortable with the idea of a brand, but whether you like it or not, you have one. In your community your brand might be “that church with the steeple.” It might be “the church for rich people.” It could even be “the church that has the food pantry for the poor.” Don’t think of your brand as a bad thing. It’s simply the identifying factors that people think about when they think about you.
And you have the ability to impact that brand.
One of the biggest hurdles I’ve seen for churches is their challenge in building their brand. Every church I’ve ever been part of has strengths. Even if there is trouble, brokenness, morale problems… there is also community or a great sermon, or people who love one another. Every church has a gift to bring the world.
But are you telling the story?
Because a brand is the result of the story you tell about you. And the churches that are reaching millennials are the churches who tell a compelling story.
“We’re a congregation that empowers our volunteers.”
“We’re a community that is creative and innovative.”
“We’re a church who serves in the larger community.”
“We’re a church for people who have given up on church.”
“We’re a church that has an amazing kids ministry.”
You can work to help people articulate your brand by telling them your story.
But what happens is sometimes we feel that we should be humble about the things we’re doing well, so we don’t talk about these things. THIS IS A MISTAKE. Pride isn’t pretending you don’t have gifts. Pride is thinking you’re better than someone else.
Your community has a gift to offer this world. And so does that other church down the street with different theology. We all bring gifts to the table. You don’t have to hide yours.
Tell the story. And be excited about it. Be proud of how God is using your community. And parade it. Shout it from the rooftops. Embrace the story that God is telling through you.
Because people don’t want advertising. They want to know what magic is happening in your church, and if you tell the story well… they’ll want to know how they can be part of it.