Taking Your Vision Public, Step 3: Crafting Your Church’s Key Messages

In our journey toward Vision-Soaked Communication, we’ve filled the pool by articulating vision and boiled it down to a great tagline. Step 3 is like describing the water: crafting your church’s key messages. In this step, we’ll talk about how to develop key messages that describe your unique vision and personality as an organization. Remember, this is all about Taking Vision Public with communication that is soaked with vision, so we’re thinking first about the external audience that doesn’t know much about you.

If your vision is like a pool, your key messages describe the water. What makes your pool unique? What will it be like when people jump in? Good key messages begin to answer these questions. Below are 5 stages of vision-soaked key message development. Let’s dive in. (I couldn’t resist.)

1. List key words and concepts.
Start the key message development process by gathering a long list of words and concepts that are a part of a church or organization’s brand. This list may have 70-100 words and include descriptors like energetic, warm, and diverse and concepts like transformation, discipleship, and service. You can pull these words from your Vision Frame and other language you’ve developed for your church. It’s amazing how different churches end up with lists of words and concepts that are very different (with some overlap, of course), which reflect their unique personalities.

2. Force-prioritize the list.

You can’t have 70-100 key messages. You can realistically only have 4 or 5 (6 at the most). So, prioritize the list of words and concepts you’ve developed, weeding out words that don’t convey your unique mission and personality. Also, look for different words or concepts that convey the same idea like “transformation” and “life-change.” Delete one of them from the list, keeping the one that is more consistent with your Vision Frame language and internal vocabulary. Repeat this process until you have only 7-10 words left in the list.

3. Define the categories.
Usually, by this point, the final 7-10 words from your list will fall into 4 or 5 categories. Those categories are the foundation of your key messages. List the categories on a separate page—don’t worry about specific wording yet, just capture the concepts. As you look at this list, ask yourself, “Are these true of us?” The last thing you want to do is develop key messages that sound good but describe something your church can’t deliver.

4. Create the language.
This is where you need to tap into your creativity. Each key message should stand on it’s own, but the best key messages also have a connection with the others. Symmetry in structure is good (adjective/noun like “Inspiring Community”) and memorable is even better. Memorable messaging usually involves some sort of interesting twist on language that makes the audience pause and say, “Hmm. That’s interesting.” Even the phrase above, “inspiring community” has a small twist in that the word “inspiring” can have multiple meanings. If you’re not a writer, find one in your church who can help with this. Remember – the key messages are primarily for your external audience, so try to stay away from Christianese and phrases that people outside of your congregation won’t understand. Make sure to remember to articulate the problem you exist to solve. This is so important that we’ve devoted the whole next step to it – Tap into the Thirst. We’ll look at that in more detail next time.

5. Revise, revise, revise.
The first draft is only rarely the best draft. When you invite others to review and give comments, hold your ideas with an open hand. If there are things about them that aren’t resonating with the team, that’s fine. Always remember—there’s another idea. The ones you’ve come up with to this point aren’t the only ideas that exist…you can find new ideas. So, with humility and openness, listen to feedback and make adjustments. The end result will be much better, and the team will have a different level of buy-in.

At the end of that process, you should have key messages that reflect your unique personality and are consistent with your Vision Frame. If you’ve been following along with this series, you might be interested in seeing Vanguard University’s key messages that were developed by using the process described above. You can download the one-page PDF here.

You’re almost ready to break out the hose and start drenching people with your vision-soaked communication. But next, let’s look at how to tap into the thirst that exists in people’s hearts.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

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Taking Your Vision Public, Step 5: Leveraging Every Medium

I’ve been in a series called Taking Vision Public: Six Steps to Vision-Soaked CommunicationWe’ve been looking at the steps involved in sharing your unique vision in compelling ways, inviting people to join in and be a part of what God has called you to do and be as a church. Here’s what we’ve covered already:

 

Now, it’s time to break out the hose, leveraging every communication medium as an outlet for your vision. This is a crucial step as we move from strategy to implementation, from planning to practice. This is also the step where far too many ministries drastically limit their effectiveness because of their unwillingness to make changes to their daily, weekly, and monthly rhythms.

Communication in any organization is built on certain rhythms and rituals, and churches are no different. A church’s normal weekly rhythm (a weekly worship service) drives many of its communication rituals. Each of these rituals need to be examined, evaluated, and reshaped in light of the work you’ve done in prior steps. This is where the hard work is really done, where the rubber meets the road, where difficult decisions need to be made.

DON’T MAKE THE BIG MISTAKE
The biggest mistake I see churches make at this point in the process is that they don’t leverage every medium to its fullest for the sake of communicating the vision. Here’s what I mean. You can redesign your weekly bulletin and overhaul your announcements to be built on vision, but if those things are disconnected from all the other things you do every Sunday, the effect will be minimal. Remember, your entire worship service is a communication event. Every word that is said, every song that is sung, every message that is preached is telling people what you think is important. If the only “vision language” that people hear is during the announcements or in the weekly bulletin, it will fall flat. That’s why I like the image of “vision-soaked communication.”

Your vision—articulated in the language you developed in steps 1-4—needs to permeate your weekly worship services. Why do we sing? Why do we pray? Why do we spend so much time reading the Bible and trying to understand what it means for us today? Why is community important? The answers to these questions must be articulated all the time and in every medium, using the vision-soaked language you’ve developed. Use the language until you’re tired of it. That’s when people will start to understand it.

There are three stages to vision becoming engrained in the hearts of people: awareness, understanding, and appreciation. First, people will slowly become aware of the vision you’re presenting and the consistent language you’re using to present it. Next, people will begin to understand what you mean and why it’s important. The final stage is appreciation, when people value the vision and can tell others why it’s important. These stages only come as you break out the hose in every area, not even just your entire weekend services.

LEVERAGE EVERY MEDIUM
Here’s a list we’ve developed over the years of many of the possible mediums you can use to communicate your vision. It’s not comprehensive, but it should certainly give you a good start. Each of these mediums should have vision running through it all the time.

  • weekly bulletin
  • verbal announcements
  • message or message series
  • videos (used during services, on website, etc.)
  • information center (physical place people go with questions)
  • pre-service announcement slides
  • photos
  • website
  • Facebook (and other social media)
  • e-newsletter (monthly or quarterly)
  • print newsletter (monthly or quarterly)
  • pastor’s blog (or other staff members’ blog)
  • mailings (letters, postcards, etc.)
  • billboards
  • newspaper ads
  • sign(s) outside church building and/or offices
  • posters (inside the church and in the community)
  • invitation cards (tools for people to invite friends)
  • welcome brochure
  • other print pieces highlighting programs and events
  • environmental design (photos, banners, etc. within your meeting space)

 

SPECIAL NOTE
Churches are historically bad at leveraging visual media like photos and videos. With the tools available today, decent videos are within the reach of every church in America. By definition, photos and videos connect with people on an emotional level long before words alone will. (Check out the book Flickering Pixels for a more detailed exploration of this topic.) Who are the people in your congregation that love to take pictures? Ask them to take high-quality photos at least once a quarter in all of your different environments (not just the main worship services!). Use as many of these photos as possible across every medium, showing people what the vision looks like. (Make sure to get permission from people to use their photos. Check with your lawyer on specific guidelines for this.)

When you take your vision public, you need to break out the hose, leveraging every medium to share your vision-soaked communication. There’s one more step to taking vision public, and it may be the most underestimated step of all. We’ll cover it next time.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Taking Vision Public, Step 2: Developing Your Church’s Tagline

How do you take your vision public? How do you communicate it clearly and in a way that compels your audience to join in and be a part of it? The answer is what I’m calling “vision-soaked communication.” Last time, we looked at filling the pool by articulating your unique vision in the Vision Frame. This time, we’ll boil it down by looking at how to develop a strong tagline. I’ve already written a series of posts on the tagline process, so in this post, we’ll  look at the specific example of Vanguard University and how their tagline serves to communicate their vision.

In our last post, I shared the Vanguard Vision Frame. With that as background, let’s look at Vanguard’s new tagline.

This tagline was born in a unique way – it came when one of our team members was listening to a Vanguard alum present a work of art she had recently created. It was a video that chronicled the stories of a few Vanguard students and alumni—how God was using their lives to make a difference in the world. She made a statement in her introduction that immediately jumped out at us as the core statement and invitation that Vanguard is making with their vision. She said, “Your story matters at Vanguard.” The team member scribbled it down as soon as she said it: “Your story matters.” Although we eventually landed on “your story matters” as the tagline, it was one of dozens of ideas we brainstormed and considered as a team.

If you remember, the mission statement of Vanguard hangs on two words: “equipping students.” The word “equip” comes from a sailing term that was used to describe the process of preparing a ship for a journey. But why is equipping students important? Why is it worth being a part of? Because the story of every student matters.

As we worked through “your story matters” as the potential tagline for Vanguard, we developed a paragraph that articulates the compelling nature of the tagline, illustrating the direct connection to the mission.

Your Story Matters
At Vanguard, your story matters. Where have you been? What are the experiences God has used to shape and prepare you? We care about your story, about who God is making you to be. And we want to equip you—to give you the skills, knowledge, and experience you need—for the journey God specifically has for you. More importantly, your story matters after you leave Vanguard. Our alumni are making a difference in education, the arts, ministry, business, and more. They’ve been prepared for a Spirit-empowered life of Christ-centered leadership and service here at VU, and God is using them in powerful ways to shape this world. Your story matters. Where will it take you next?

Do you see how the tagline functions as both a statement of fact and an invitation to discover more? And, by pairing it with the simple question, “Where will it take you next?” we set the foundation for the specific key messages we want to share with Vanguard’s audiences. (We’ll look at the key messages next time.)

When you take your vision public, your tagline needs to boil your vision down to its essence. Why should people care that you exist? How will you invite them to be a part of what you are doing? The tagline can’t answer every question in great detail, but it should serve as an emotive and compelling invitation for your audience to learn more about who you are and why you exist. It can become a kind of rallying cry that reminds people of your mission and vision that you can return to again and again.

Now that we’ve filled the pool and boiled it down, next time, we’ll talk about how to describe the water by crafting your key messages. Each of these pieces is critical to vision-soaked communication.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Taking Your Vision Public, Step 4: Communicating Your Church’s Big Why

What is it that causes some communication to grab people and stick with them? What is different about communication that causes people to move from being observers of a mission to participants in the mission? The answer, plain and simple is emotion.

I once heard it said, “There is no motion without emotion.” I believe that’s true. People get involved with things that they care about – things that connect with them on an emotional level. I’ve mentioned Simon Sinek before and his book, Start with Why, which goes into how this concept of inspiring action by connecting with people emotionally is actually wired into our physiology. If you’re the type of person that’s looking for the Cliff’s Notes, check out his TED talk.

So when you take your vision public, you need to remember to c0nnect with people emotionally by communicating the Big Why. I’ve been using a metaphor of vision-soaked communication – fill the pool (by articulating your vision clearly), boil it down (by developing an effective tagline), and describing the water (by crafting your key messages). Within that framework, I think of the Big Why as tapping into the thirst that exists within the hearts of people.

You would think that this is something that church leaders would do more consistently than those that work in the business world. But that’s not always the case. Think about your announcements from last Sunday or the blurbs in the weekly bulletin or the ad you run in the newspaper or the billboard promoting your services. The vast majority of churches spend 90% of their time communicating about “the What” instead of communicating “the Why.”

Here’s a perfect example. I know of a pastor and his preaching team that are planning to preach through the Bible as their first sermon series of 2012, choosing the 20 most significant stories and passages. When asked why they chose that topic, the first response was, “Biblical literacy has gone down significantly in the past 20 years.” Not very compelling, right? Why should the person in the pew (or padded seats) care about that…or, even more importantly, why would they invite their neighbor to come and hear that sermon series? They haven’t connected on an emotional level!

What if, on the other hand, the preaching team of that same church presented the same 20 stories and passages of scripture within a different framework? “God is telling a story and it is only within the context of that larger story that the every day issues we face like pain, suffering, hope, the longing for peace, and the desire for love and acceptance make any sense at all. In this series, we’ll get a handle on the larger story that brings all of our lives into perspective.” Makes a difference, doesn’t it? And, by the way, this framework is directly connected to their vision as a church…a vision they had already articulated (inviting people to experience and share the whole, new life available in Christ).

The Big Why makes all the difference. But so many churches brush right past the why to the what. Take a look at the key messages we developed for Vanguard again. In this case, we have built some of the Big Why ideas into the paragraphs that support the specific messages. Can you find the “Big Why” language?

This idea of tapping into the thirst that exists in the hearts of people is so crucial to vision-soaked communication that it must be at the core of everything you communicate. It doesn’t matter what you’re communicating, you should always answer the question, “Why should I care?” The people who are listening are always implicitly asking that question. If you give them an answer that connects with them emotionally, they will dive in, step up, or whatever other metaphor for participation you’d like to use. Tap into the thirst by always communicating the Big Why.

And then, you need to break out the hose. We’ll cover that next time.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.