What comes to your mind when you think of the car manufacturer Volvo?

I would bet words like safety, realiability, Swedish would come to mind, right? Everyone I've spoken to has said that the No.1 word they associate Volvo with is safety.

Volvo know this of course, they leverage their whole brand off it. So it was no surprise when the it was reported that they had developed a brilliant new safety feature called 'Collision Avoidance with Full Auto Brake technology'. Basically, the car senses if you are about to crash and applies the brakes before you can respond. Smart huh?

To demonstrate this new feature Volvo invited the world's media (who came armed with cameras) to show it off. You can check out the video here.  

I'm sure no one expected what happened next. The demonstration didn't work. The car crashed.

It takes years to build a reputation and a moment to lose it all.

I bet you are a bit more interested in checking out the video now eh?

Everyone who saw that video or heard the news report – their perception of Volvo will of changed in that moment. It is going to take time for Volvo to rebuild their reputation, in the meantime they will lose sales, customers and good will.

Its the same for churches. Every church has hundreds of opportunities to lose its reputation. Every. Single. Day.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What can possibly go wrong? What is the worst thing that could happen in my ministry/church?
  2. Who is responsible for fixing it, or making the event/story work?
  3. What 'plan B' do we have in place if something goes wrong?
  4. Who is responsible for actioning that plan if its needed, and do they have every resource on standby ready to go?
  5. What policies do we have in place that would prevent this from happening. If it happens, what policies and procedures do we have in place to help bring healing/reconciliation/legal restitution or closure.

Here are some areas you definately should be asking those questions in:

  • Childrens Ministry
  • Counselling
  • Senior Pastor/church staff
  • Church Board

It's not just in the big ticket 'positional' items you can lose your reputation.

You can lose your reputation every time you:

  • Don't fulfill a brand promise to someone who checked you out on your 'our church is friendly' website and no one spoke to them when they turned up.
  • Your staff hear about staffing issues for the first time on a Sunday or at a church business meeting.
  • Don't make a deadline for a ministry partner.
  • Promise that you'll contact a volunteer and don't.

What do you think?

Have you been on the wrong end of losing reputation in a church?

What other areas that are vulnerable to reputation damage?

Tune in tomorrow where I'll be sharing on what you can do to turn around a disaster.

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