It was Bob Dylan who sang ‘The times are a changing.’ And indeed they are. At an ever rapid rate. Western culture is shifting more rapidly than ever before. And this has massive implications for churches and the Christian faith in general.

I work in church communications (read marketing) and as I look to the future I’m seeing a rapidly changing attitudinal landscape that will profoundly impact how churches communicate.

I also see a problem many churches will face, especially when it comes to their branding and positioning of their message. Oh and if you don’t think your church is marketing itself then think again. Everything you say and do is marketing your church.

So what is this ‘big’ change?

Let me paint the picture for you. Some churches align themselves with their audience. They implicitly through their branding and messaging say ‘we are just normal people just like you’.

The challenge is that for an increasingly larger proportion of society they don’t think churches are normal. They actually don’t think the Christian worldview is normal. Gone are the days when the Christian worldview was the majority worldview in the west.

As the years roll forward the Christian worldview will become increasingly more distinct to the western secular worldview. The gap is already there in some obvious quarters like abortion, homosexuality, (some) politics (depending on the country you are in). Here in Australia, the local state Labour (Democratic) government is legislating that the Christian adoption agencies will not be able to discriminate according to their own values in a way they have been previously exempt from. All Christian Education (SRI) is now being stopped in public schools in my state of Victoria. The white-hot issue of Gay marriage in Australia is set to roll on. Many of my friends just don’t understand why Christians are against it. Then there is the issue of Euthanasia. Society is rapidly changing its opinion on many issues it once held a firm belief in upholding.

I believe that churches that will prevail into the future, instead of trying to be just like everyone will have an opportunity through being distinct to calling people to a different way of life. This will be a barrier for so many of your friends and mine. Churches will shrink. Some will die. People will leave because it is just too hard to follow the way of Jesus.

If you want your church to prevail into the future ask yourself:

  • Who are we? really! (please don’t say Jesus, your church is more than the bible college answer)
  • What do we really care about?
  • What issues do we hold with a closed hand? (Won’t change)
  • What issues do we hold with an open hand? (Open to change)
  • What areas of culture do we think we can make a positive difference in?
  • What is the one thing we want to be known for from our friends and families that don’t go to church?
  • What is our alternative vision of the society we are a part of?

The question I’ve raised today isn’t just about branding and marketing. Sure a marketer would say I’m talking about brand essence, but it much deeper than simply that.

Your turn

What changes do you think are coming? Do you think churches need to do anything about it? Got questions about this post?