Six Churches Who are “Nailing It” with Their Branding

The Auxano Team has spent some time reflecting on last month’s Guest Experience Boot Camp. We remain energized by how God brought together 25 unique teams of leaders to take an honest look at, and design a powerful moment for, every First Time Guest that visits their church. Auxano’s Guest Experience specialist, Bob Adams, and I also love hearing the resultant stories of significant breakthrough emerging from seemingly insignificant hospitality tweaks. We are already planning two or three more Guest Experience Boot Camps for 2018 in strategic cities across the U.S. The Guest Experience Boot Camps for 2018 have been scheduled: check here for details. If you register before 1/1/18, use the code EarlyBird20 at checkout to receive a 20% discount!

Looking back, one brand name appeared multiple times during the Guest Experience BootCamp: Disney.
Specifically the amazing attention to detail and user-experience that the Guest Services Team from Walt Disney exhibits every day. Using Disney as an example of an organization that creates “repeat” visits, should be pretty obvious and natural. Churches can stand to learn a lot from how well Disney welcomes and cares for every Guest.
It got me to wondering though, what if churches patterned themselves after other major commercial brands? What would those churches be like?
Starbucks Church – At this congregation, you can count on the pastors to seem very friendly and interested in you, but never actually learn your real name. The environment is styled and modern, creating some great hang time among your friends with each visit. In reality though, they are unapologetically over-tithing you. Nobody attending the Starbucks Church actually listens to the messages, as most are there just because everyone else is too.
Walmart Church – This big-box church experience is very generic and, as a result, everyone who visits can find something they like. The worship here is loud and there is a lot of it… but the quality of worship is suspect, at best. Church leadership is proud of their informality and accessibility to everyone, it’s just a bit weird that so many people are in their pajamas.
Apple Church – With this paradigm shifting congregation, every other church in town simultaneously hates and imitates them at the same time. However, just when you start to love them as an attender, they introduce a new location and/or staff. In fact, you can count on something major to change at about the same time every year, in the name of “just one more thing.”
Blockbuster Church – This once-mega body now holds a bit too tightly onto a grossly outdated experience, believing that tradition and their historic size will one day be on their side. The core belief here is that the church will return to past glory, and every leadership meeting devolves into trying to remember what worked “that time” a few years ago. As the years go by, and culture keeps changing, keen observers can look forward to this church’s building becoming a crossfit gym, hipster design firm or furniture rental store.
Target Church – See above description of Walmart Church and think just a bit nicer and cleaner.
Chick-Fil-A Church – Wait. Isn’t this a thing already? This church is always, and I mean always, crowded and staffed by an unnaturally happy ministry team. In fact, it’s borderline weird how much pleasure these folks get out of doing their jobs. Every Sunday morning, you start out thinking you will visit another church, but somehow always end up back here. When every other church in town is open for mid-week ministry activities, they are rebelliously closed. And their youth ministry STILL reaches more than every other hype-church’s (insert “fun” food or cult classic movie night) Awesome Wednesday Youth Group.
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Bryan Rose

Bryan Rose

As Lead Navigator for Auxano, Bryan Rose has a strong bias toward merging strategy and creativity within the vision of the local church and has had a diversity of experience in just about every ministry discipline over the last 12 years. With his experience as a multi-site strategist and campus pastor at a 3500 member multi-campus church in the Houston Metro area, Bryan has a passion to see “launch clarity” define the unique Great Commission call of developing church plants and campus, while at the same time serving established churches as they seek to clarify their individual ministry calling. Bryan has demonstrated achievement as a strategic thinker with a unique ability to infuse creativity into the visioning process while bringing a group of people to a deep sense of personal ownership and passion.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you Ed for sharing your insights into the Church Growth Movement. I have my reservations with Church Growth models because it has done more damage than good in the Body of Christ. Over the years, western churches are more focused on results, formulas and processes with little or no emphasis on membership and church discipline. Pastors and vocational leaders are burnt out because they're overworked. I do believe that the Church Growth model is a catalyst to two destructive groups: The New Apostolic Reformation and the Emerging Church. Both groups overlap and have a very loose definition. They're both focus on contemporary worship, expansion of church brand (franchising), and mobilizing volunteering members as 'leaders' to grow their ministry. Little focus on biblical study, apologetics and genuine missional work with no agenda besides preaching of the gospel.
— Dave
comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you for sharing such a good article. It is a great lesson I learned from this article. I am one of the leaders in Emmanuel united church of Ethiopia (A denomination with more-than 780 local churches through out the country). I am preparing a presentation on succession planning for local church leaders. It will help me for preparation If you send me more resources and recommend me books to read on the topic. I hope we may collaborate in advancing leadership capacity of our church. God Bless You and Your Ministry.
— Argaw Alemu
comment_post_ID); ?> Amen!!
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