I make Seth Godin's blog part of my regular reading schedule every day. It's a simple blog filled daily with Seth's marketing tips motivated by love and passion rather than profit and business. This morning's thoughts from Seth grabbed my attention:
This is perhaps the greatest marketing strategy struggle of our time:
Should your product or service be very good, meet spec and be beyond reproach or...
should it be a remarkable, memorable, over the top, a tell-your-friends event?
The answer isn't obvious, and many organizations are really conflicted about this.
I know that the moment I walk down the path of talking about Church Requel's weekly services in terms of a "product or service" I take the risk of offending those who think such considerations are too pragmatic or as "tickling the ears" (2 Tim. 4:3). In the same way that Delta Airlines' first priority must be the safety of its passengers, my top priority as a teacher must be Biblically-based and doctrinally-sound teaching.
However, it would be foolish not to consider the fact that Church Requel is new and still relatively unknown in Mansfield. But frankly, even if Church Requel were the best known church in town, I would still want the Sunday evening experience to be "a remarkable, memorable, over the top, tell-your-friends event." What are some of the ways that we can make Sunday nights at Church Requel something really special?
- Make the services highly user-friendly. Station greeters at all the doors. Make certain greeters are friendly and desirous of helping people find their way around. Work on signage, especially for restrooms and directions to children's areas. Provide a written program with not only a welcome message, but some helpful instructions about what is coming up. Make creative use of projected, visual images and messages.
- Define our language. Every church, religion, business, and organization has its own vocabulary... and nothing says "you don't belong" more loudly to an outsider than when the special lingo is thoughtlessly thrown out. Vocabulary and language is not a bad thing - it's a special gift from God. We aren't afraid to use our words. We just won't be so rude as to not explain what we mean when we use them.
- I teach and let God preach. The Bible is quite clear that the Holy Spirit convicts and rebukes the world. He really doesn't need my help. So I work really hard at having a conversation with those who come to the services. I want them to think of me as someone sitting down at the kitchen table and talking to them about something I have just learned myself.
- Authenticity breaks barriers. No pedestal sitting here. I am on a faith journey myself. I want to invite others to share the journey. So let's not be afraid to admit that we struggle with the same issues as everyone else. The glory is all about God and what He has accomplished in our lives.
- Write my sermon twice. Let it percolate a while. By this I mean that I attempt to get the basic outline and teaching put together as early as possible. Then I store it up in the subconscious and let it roll around in my mind. I find it remarkable how often I will find special ways to bring out the message of the sermon through illustrations, stories, quotes, movie clips, and examples.
We have been strategic about choosing Sunday evenings rather than Sunday mornings. I want people to walk out of the Church Requel experience stepping a little higher than when they came in. I want the Sunday night message to still be at the forefront of someone's thinking on Monday morning. I want Church Requel to make a difference in the way the people of Richland County relate and interact with one another. None of these wants will ever be achieved if we just "meet spec."