Recently in a discussion with a pastoral mentor we discussed the rate of change. My mentor said in his day, change typically occurred like this. Change happened, people adapted, people got comfortable, and the next generation altered some things (change). Repeat the process. In other words change happened in manageable segments. However, he went on to compare change in todays world to a lumber jack on a log, in a river. He said pastors and the churches they lead now must be constantly moving to stay on top of things or get swept away in the river of change.
Part of staying on top of the change is rebranding your church. No I didn't say change the gospel or don't make disciples. I mean the "look and feel" of your church building, your logo, the font of your church name, etc.
Why Should My Church Rebrand?
1. Style is Outdated
Think about this, Air BnB started in 2007. They are extremely effective at what they do. So many people use their app or website for lodging. It works, you know how many times they've changed their logo since 2007? Five times. That's right, five!! If you're doing the math that's a logo change almost every 3 years. While that's certainly a lot, it does say they are trying to stay on the front end of change. Think of Mastercard, Starbucks, etc. Their logo changes quite often.
So many churches need an updated style that speaks to the current generation. If your church is still using the same branding logo and font on your name you had 30 years ago it's WAY past time to change. If your church rebranded 7 to 10 years ago, it's time to update.
2. Church Attendance Has Changed
It's not uncommon as business' grow so does the need to reconnect. As your church grows it cannot continue to operate as it did at 50 people or as it did at 300. Why? Because it's larger and will connect differently than it did when it was smaller. The result is that your church branding style tells a connecting story. Everything about your church from the seats in the lobby, to color of the lighting, to font used in the name tells a story. When you are 50 people you may likely be able to get away with a "typo" here or there in a publication (though you shouldn't be 'ok' with it) it's much more understandable. If you're a church of 300 or more, no excuse, you should be producing high quality material.
Has your church changed in it's attendance numbers? It may be time to change.
3. Vision Change
Vision is the direction your church is going. When your vision changes it's likely you need to begin telling that new story and allowing that story to speak for your church. While your churches purpose may not have changed since it's founding, even if it was founded over hundred years ago, (that purpose being to bring people to Jesus and make disciples) your vision in how that's accomplished had better change. Why? Because the world is not the same as it was hundred years or even 20 years ago.
Does your branding speak to a change in vision?
4. Change in Values
A change in values!!! I can hear it now, "Why our church never changes its values, we value the Bible and Jesus!!" My response is yes and no. Let's look at this a different way. Jesus and the Bible are the foundation but how do you build on that? I can lay a foundation but am I going to use steal or wood studs? Will I have 2 baths or 3? How will I decorate? etc.
Does your church value commitment? Does your church value clear communication? Does your church value outreach? Does your church value cutting edge technology? Once you've nailed down your new values, it's likely the way you brand your church needs to change. Why? Again if you've not changed your church font name, logo, interior, etc. in 20 years or more you're way out of date and likely not communicating your values in your marketing story.
5. Looks Like Other Churches
UGH!!! Holy plagiarism runs amuck in the church world. As soon as a church lands a process, style, a look, etc. and begins to grow we quickly create a conference, webinar, to show others "how we did it." STOP IT!! Like lemmings off a cliff churches follow so they can grow like THAT church! Your church is unique, make sure your churches branding speaks to who you are and stands out from others.
Where I live there is a road called Olio Rd. There are a lot of churches on that road. Recently, some friends of mine that moved to the area hadn't attended church but decided to try since the recent life change. They tried every church on Olio Rd. Their comment to me, "What's the point, the only thing different about them is the name on the sign." They decided NOT to try another church anywhere because churches are "all the same." Your branding must make you stand out from other church options. Don't try and be like the big "box church" down the street. Your branding should be unique to your vision, values, culture, the story you want to tell, etc.
I know what some of you are thinking, "God never changes and nor does our logo." Well, God created a world that persistently changes. I mean the wind changes every minute. (I think.) Just because you change your logo or font or furniture or wall colors doesn't mean you are watering down the gospel. It means you understand the times in which you live. Sadly, too many churches are stuck and don't understand the times in which they live.
Marketing professionals suggest a rebranding of an organization about every 7 to 10 years. If your church hasn't changed it's branding in over 10 years it's out of date.
I like what Thomas Jefferson said:
"In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock."
In case Thomas Jefferson isn't spiritual enough how about the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 5:6,
"For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly."
Even Jesus knew when the timing was right to make a change in humanity. Is it time for your church to make a change? After all, pastors, we are lumberjacks on top of a log that is rolling. MOVE!!
You can listen to this podcast episode HERE.