If my wife and I have an argument it's usually because we haven't communicated well. It's true in every relationship. We have to work at communicating. We communicate with our words and our actions. What we don't say also communicates something. When people outside your church look at you, what do they see?
Churches who are Great Commission-minded should care about outsiders' perceptions. What does the outsider see? What they think about you is important -- not just what you think about you. Your brand is your image. It’s what people think of when they think of you. What outsiders see when they come to your church is your brand.
Church leaders who want to influence outsiders must be smart about their brand. Here are six things to remember when it comes to building brand awareness.
1. Lead with value.
Content is king. Ed Stetzer taught me this years ago. If you want to build a brand, you must regularly roll out content, and your content should add value to people. What does the content on your church's website or blog communicate? Before you take a picture and post it, think about the person who will be reading it. Is it about you? Or does it add value? I wish we would get to a point where every day, every week, we would begin to think about the value we want to add to people’s relationships, marriages, finances, etc. What if this was our mindset when writing our worship guides? Our newsletters? Our church e-blasts? Add value to them first, and then share what you want to tell them. Is your instagram and newsletter more about you? Or about them?
2. Consistency communicates.
Consistency is more important than genius. Don’t get paralyzed by perfection. It can keep you from being consistent. Everything doesn’t have to be a level 10 value-add. Do it with excellence, and then trust the Holy Spirit. Find a rhythm, and develop a plan for content. Consistent communication builds trust. If the last post on your organization's blog or social media site was postedmonths (or even years) ago, that says something to you prospective audience. It communicates "out-of-date" and "not buttoned-up".
3. Our story connects.
Tell your story. Don’t just be slick in always promoting or selling something. There is a power in transparency and vulnerability. Your life as others see it is part of your brand. As a pastor, you can lose your right to lead and your moral authority by what you say and don’t say, the stands you take and you don’t take, and the places you go. These things affect what people think of when they think about you. Vulnerability in the appropriate context is disarming and can help others relate to you.
4. We never win an argument on social media.
You can put Donald Trump’s picture on your profile if you want to, but you need to know that no democrats are coming to your church. You can take a hard stance if you want to and die on that hill, but just know that you may surely die on that hill. Think about Nehemiah’s focus as he worked on the wall. He said, “I don’t have time to come down the wall and argue with you. I’m doing a great work, and I don’t have time to get distracted.” Some churches are right on the issue, but because they are proclaiming it before people actually get to know them, they lose the right to influence those people. I would rather them get to know me and form a relationship with me and then try to influence them.
5. Jerusalem comes first.
Our Jerusalem is where we live and work now. While we may influence Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth, Jerusalem should always come first. You may be a leader who feels that God is one day calling you to greater leadership outside your current sphere of influence. Perhaps you want to speak or write a book. Maybe you want to coach or be invited onto a main stage, encouraging other leaders. However, the organization where you lead and serve now deserves your priority when it comes to communication. As a Sr Leader, I have alway tried to keep in mind that Jerusalem comes first. My leaders come first. My people come first. When it comes to posts and content, I have first had in my mind my family, my Team, and my organization's vision and purpose.
Don’t get so focused on building influence out there that you lose influence in here.
Success is being loved and respected by those closest to you.