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They call it “branding.”


It comes from asking some very basic – and very difficult-to-answer questions:

1) What business are we really in?

2) What is our greatest passion?

3) What are our greatest strengths?

4. Who are we serving.

Those questions can lead to bold, creative, non-traditional experiments.

Years ago, I attended a Saddleback conference. I remember thinking, “Saddleback is reaching Californians. It is church, but church-done-differently. They’ve found their passion, their strengths, their business.

Then, I attended a Willowcreek Conference. Again, I thought, “Willow is doing church differently, and reaching people in the suburbs of Chicago. They know their passion, their strengths – and they are unafraid to be different.”

Today – it’s Saddleback and Willow and Fellowship and Life Church and Bethlehem and Covenant and Lakewood and Mars Hill and the Journey and First Baptist and Second Baptist and Redeemer Pres and so on and so on…. Each has a different ”brand.” Each is reaching people others are not reaching. Each has its flaws and idiosyncrasies – usually related to the personality of the lead pastor.

Here is what I believe:

1. It takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people.

2. There are ways of doing church that no one has thought of yet.

3. The faithful church will find ways to be effective

4. It is tough to pour new wine into old wineskins.

5. Every Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church is on the same team.

I agree with Mark Batterson:

I think way too many churches have copied mission statements. We have what I would call cut-and-paste churches. Please don’t tell me your mission is to make fully-devoted followers of Christ. Of course it is. And, of course it isn’t. That is Willowcreek language. If we simply use someone else’s language I’m not sure we’ll ever own the mission. Every church needs its own unique words, pictures, and values.


One Comment

  1. Hey, Sam, I have started a blog to address this very idea: a different kind of church and a different sense of mission.

    There are lots of different kinds of people, and so there should be lots of different kinds of churches, and I am thinking out creative ideas for church.

    check it out at

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