Just finished a whirlwind week. It began with the National New Church Conference in Orlando and then ended, as it did for many others, with Q in Atlanta (Q, whew?). Q was packed with great thinkers and presenters, formatted to flow fairly quickly. Most presenters had 18 minutes to make their point while the clock was counting down in front of them and the audience. In an effort to keep our filter here to church marketing/communication, I’ll let the rest of the blog world, including some recaps from Scott Hodge, fulfill your fodder-looking fancy.
As for the subject of marketing and communicating the church, allow me to highlight some takeaways:
Andy Crouch from the Christian Vision Project talked about postures vs. gestures (something Josh recently summarized). Sometimes we let what should be our gestures actually become our postures. Our ability to condemn, critique, copy and consume has turned from what should be a gesture into a full blown posture. This has had enormous implications for the brand of Christianity. Instead, says Crouch, we should have our posture be to cultivate and create, following God’s lead from day one when he created the world and cultivated its beauty.
Futurist Kevin Kelly of Wired magazine fame talked about our “sphere of empathy” and how the bigger the group/community/culture we’re a part of is, the less empathetic we become because our attachment is weakened. It’s a great reminder for church communication because it is better to work with an audience that is warm to the message rather than cold, distant or unfamiliar.
The mysterious and anti-just-about-anything Rob Bell led Q attendees in a meaning-filled time of communion on Thursday night. I really appreciated his rhetorical question that asked “If [y]our church was removed from [y]our community, who would protest?” Pow!
Never the one to say something that doesn’t get a rise, Rob reiterated his pugnacity from Velvet Elvis about church marketing. I imagine Bell thought he’d get a big clap offering for saying the words marketing and branding should never be in the same sentence with the word church. To the contrary, most people were silent because Rob was speaking to an audience that actually understands marketing and branding and how it works with the church. Rob, we all agree that church marketing is bad–if you mean trying to sell people something or to get butts in pews! Enough already … as I step down from my box of soap.
I really enjoyed hanging out with many old and new friends at Q. The crowd size was perfect (about 500) so it was easy to connect with and find people. After talking with Jeff Shinabarger last night, one of the brains behind Q, it sounds like they’ve learned a ton from this first year and are eager to keep the collaboration and community forging ahead. It’s refreshing to see spaces created that make way for the church to not just talk about how we need to improve, but actually set out plans for being the change.