First post in a blog series about the strategies Jesus used to communicate in his day.

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Hello ladies.

Now look at your church. Now back to me. Now back at your church. Now back to me.

Is your church an Old Spice church? Is mine?

Let me rephrase that.

I was blown away by the original thinking and creativity in this TV ad. I've been thinking about about the creative projects that I've been working on over the last month. I've been asking myself – are my ideas original. Are they standing out, are they serving and amplifying the mission of the church. 

How about you? How is your creative output?

I'm not saying that doing creative like this will make your church smell sweeter than a romantic millionaire jet fighter pilot, but I am insinuating it.
 

There is a small town in Canada having huge problems attracting tourists. The mayor has asked for help. It’s a very beautiful destination, full of happy locals. But no-one will visit. Why?

Well, its because the town’s is called Asbestos. Yep. I know what you’re thinking. But its true.

Is it possible to make Asbestos a place you’d like to visit?

A brilliant Australian TV program called ‘The Gruen Transfer’ has developed some adverts to help encourage people to visit the town (in a tongue in cheek kind of way). Check out the two TV creative executions selling the town (Warning: there is some bad language in one of the TV spots).

Churches often have a similar problem. They have a name that really sucks. Yet for some reason they think that their odd name will attract those from their wider community.

Here are a few that I’ve come across:

  • Little Hope Baptist Church
  • Original Church of God, Number 2
  • Boring Seventh Day Adventist Church (Led by Elder called Dull)
  • Waterproof Baptist Church
  • Country Club Christian Church
  • James Bond United Community Church (which has no association with St. Martini Lutheran Church ;-)
  • First United Separated Baptist Church
  • First Church of the Last Chance World on Fire Revival and Military Academy
    (Thanks to Neil Cole for the list)

Unlike the town of Asbestos, churches can do something about it. Here are some smart tips:

1. Get approval about changing your name before you even start thinking about any names (whatever your church law requires you to do eg. Board, Elders or congregation).

2. Pray about it. Uh oh, I just got all spiritual. Well yes.

3. Avoid names that only insiders will understand.

4. Decide if you are going to be a local or regional church.

5. Don’t copy other church names - Don’t be a carbon copy. Be original!

6. Does the new name lower barriers to entry into your church or help?

7. Check to see if a domain name is available and buy every variation around your name.

8. Understand that renaming your church isn’t a magic bullet for growth.

9. Put an agreed timetable at the start of the project and stick to it.

10. Pay a professional to develop your new name and create your new identity. There are plenty of really good creatives out there who love Jesus. Let them lead you with creative strengths which will allow you to focus on leading the church with yours.

How about you, what tips do you have to share?

The story about the Russian 'deep cover' agents has been all over world news last week. They were allegedly trained by Russian Intelligence in Moscow and sent to spy on America. Their mission was to infiltrate policy making circles and send back intelligence to Russia.

Imagine a senario where deep cover agents infiltrate your church. Their mission is to report back to their puppet master and dish up what is really going on at your church. Not what you think is going on, but what is really happening.

Imagine to my surprise when I came across a real life puppet master who sent his secret agents into churches – not to spy and use it against churches, but to go undercover and use it to serve the vision and the mission of that church.

This service to churches includes an eye on everything:

  • Your church’s website
  • parking lot
  • foyer/lobby
  • nursery
  • facilities
  • signage
  • restrooms
  • overall feel and a main focus on the worship experience including music
  • technology/media and preaching.

About a month or so ago I came across a guy called Greg Atkinson. Greg oversees a ministry called 'Secret Shopper'

The corporate world has used for years the idea of mystery shopper. This is where a 'undercover brutha' or 'sista' (I've always wanted to use that word in a blog post) uses the service the business offers. The undercover brutha then writes a report about their experience using a pre-determined report that is then handed back to the client to reveal their areas of strengths and weaknesses.

Why is a secret agent/secret shopper so important? I've said before that perception is everything. That it is not about how churches see themselves that really counts, but how others from outside the church see them really matters. Secret shoppers or undercover brutha's will help you see yourself how others see you.

Brilliant.

Have you every used a secret shopper? 

 

Church-marketing-101
I've been a church communications guy, aka church marketing guy for just a few short years and I've been giving away some of the books that I've found formative in my thinking. Church Marketing 101 by Richard Reising is another one of those books. 

Just like the last two week's book giveaway (week 1, week 2) I think Church Marketing 101 is so good that I'm putting my money where my big Australian mouth is. I'm giving away a copy of the book.

Complete these two simple steps and it could be yours:

1) Retweet this message or post it to your Facebook page: ' I'd love 2win a copy of Church Marketing 101 by @richardreising via @stevefogg http://bit.ly/b7nslp

2) Leave a comment below including your Twitter handle or Facebook link so I can contact you if you are the winner. It would be great to hear from you on how it could help you in what you do. 

I'll be announcing the winner on Saturday 10th July 2010 on this post (EST Australia Time). For the rest of you, you can buy the book here and here. PS. I'm stumping up the dough for this. There is no behind the scenes marketing going on. It's just a great book.

(Richard blogs at Beyond Relevance, twitters at @richardreising, you can find a DVD resource on his book site)

******** The winner nominated by random.org is…. @sodgers CONGRATULATIONS!!!! ********

:: Follow me on Twitter, come and say G'day on Facebook, get regular updates via my RSS feed or stalk me in person in Melbourne (you'll have to do the leg work on that one).

All churches have a voice. How your church chooses to use your voice is your choice. But you will be known for it. Do you want to reinforce or break the stereotype of being a Christian is all about?


Homosexuals

What you'd expect

A different kind of demo


Money

What you'd expect

A different kinda money


Politics

What you'd expect

A different kind of politics


Preachers

What you'd expect

A different kinda of preacher

What reinforces the stereotypical church or breaks the stereotype for you?

What other perceptions do you think people have of Churches and Christians?

Follow me on Twitter, come and say G'day on Facebook, get regular updates via my RSS feed or stalk me in person in Melbourne (you'll have to do the leg work on that one).

Bill Taylor at the Harvard Business Review always has a habit of asking uncomfortable questions. Here is a message, challenge and question he threw out for business. I've ammended it to make it relevant for churches.

Real Message: If your community can live without you, they eventually will.

Big Challenge: If you do church the way everybody else does church, you'll never do any better.

Urgent Question: If your church disappeared tomorrow, would anybody notice?

Uncomfortable anyone? I am.

What do you think?

Follow me on Twitter, come and say G'day on Facebook, get regular updates via my RSS feed or stalk me in person in Melbourne (you'll have to do the leg work on that one).

Last week Scott McClellan over at Collide Magazine wrote a great article on proofreading and other mistakes that churches make. Looking over my shoulder while I was reading the article was my web developer who laughed and said that had nothing on the Adulterous Bible.

The King of England's printers made a critical typo when they reprinted the King James Bible in 1631. When the good men of King's printers got to the Ten Commandments they left off a rather critical word out. Read the the original text below. (You can read the full story in detail here.)

Wickedbible 
Have you ever had a job to do for a client or ministry partner and after its been printed and distributed to a gazillion people you've had a knock on the door from your Senior Pastor gently telling you about a 'small' (subtitle: HUGE) mistake on the job?

Here are four tips to avoid a communications wipeout like that:

1) Get two different people who haven't been involved in your project to proof read your communications piece. Ask them to check it for spelling and grammar.

2) Pick a detailed focused person and a creative person. They interpret writing differently and will help you communicate more clearly with some helpful suggestions.

3) Are you like me, not a natural writer? Here are 8 great tips for less sucky writing from Lifechurch.tv's Communications Director Lori Bailey. If your writing improves, chances are you'll make less mistakes.

4) Ask your graphic designer if they've done a thorough spell check. It's like a 'well duh' moment I know, but I'm never surprised when my graphic designers have said that they've forgotten to do it. Here are some funny mistakes that have been made in church bulletins.

My father-in-law taught me when helping him to do any carpentry always to measure twice, cut once. It's the same in communications. Check it again and again, because you can only print it once!

What proof reading tips do you have? Help other readers and drop in a comment.

Have you have every had that dreaded sinking feeling of seeing a typo in a job you've done?

Footnote: Phil Cooke, Author of Branding Faith found this amazing typo on this billboard which surely will be the butt of many jokes.

Related posts
Great Insight For Writing From Rick Warren
8 Tips For Less Sucky Writing
Top 10 Church Bulletin Bloopers

Follow me on Twitter, come and say G'day on Facebook, get regular updates via my RSS feed or stalk me in person in Melbourne (you'll have to do the leg work on that one).

Promo_1_LG
 

If you are like me sometimes people don't seem to always understand what I'm trying to say. I'm a quiet kind of guy. Sometimes I mumble. Sometimes I ramble on and complicate what should be a simple answer or explanation in a conversation.

Many churches are like me in the way they communicate. They mumble. They ramble. They communicate ideas in a complex way when in fact the ideas can be communicated very simply .

Sound familar? Is this your church, or a church you know?

If you are like me and need help with your church communications like I strongly recommend Less Clutter. Less Noise by Kem Meyer. Kem's book will equip you with simple strategies for getting the word out. It is helping me on my journey to cut through the clutter and noise of people's lives and communicate with increased simplicity and clarity. Her ultimate goal is to help people take their next step towards Jesus. Pretty cool huh?

I heard ahead of time that it was pretty good so I brought two copies, one to read and one to give to other staff to read so we could be more aligned in our thinking.

Just like last week's book giveaway, I think it is so good that I'm putting my money where my big Australian mouth is. I'm giving away a copy of the book.

Complete these two simple steps and it could be yours:

1) Retweet this message or post it to your Facebook page: ' I'd love 2win a copy of Less Clutter Less Noise by @kemmeyer via @stevefogg http://bit.ly/b8rPGF

2) Leave a comment below including your Twitter handle or Facebook link so I can contact you if you are the winner. It would be great to hear from you on how it could help you in what you do. 

I'll be announcing the winner on Saturday 3rd July 2010 on this post (EST Australia Time)

For the rest of you, you can buy the book here. It's brilliant. Don't miss it.

PS. I'm stumping up the dough for this. There is no behind the scenes marketing going on. It's just a great book.

*****The winner of the book giveaway is: @PaulSteinbrueck Paul was picked by random.org *******

Related posts
10 Church Branding Myths
Does God Need A Rebrand?
3 Slick Rebranding Tips For Churches From BP

:: Follow me on Twitter, come and say G'day on Facebook, get regular updates via my RSS feed or stalk me in person in Melbourne (you'll have to do the leg work on that one).

Yes, Hillsong Conference 2010 starts next week. No, sadly I'm not going.

Watch this video below and enjoy the Hillsong Conference opener from last year. Brilliant execution across so many creative mediums.

Thank you Hillsong for setting the creative bar sky high.

You can register here.