I’ve been thinking about branding the last few days. Wikipedia’s opening line equates a brand with the name or trademark connected with a product or producer. But what I’ve been thinking about is less the naming or trademarking part of branding and more what some would call the “brand experience.” In other words we understand that the Nike swoosh stands for something more than just athletic shoes…it stands for getting off your behind and getting it done. “Just Do It.”
Branding is not just about a creative logo or tagline, it’s more about our culture, our ethos, who we are and how we hope to be known. At Calvary, our brand has something to do with building a church without walls and living life without walls, and I’m always thinking, what does that mean, how does that look — who are we and how do we want to be known.
I’ve been thinking about branding because I’m starting to work on a teaching series that will start in October. I will be using the book unChristian as a framework and the life of Jesus as a foundation for the series. It’s going to be called unChristian: confessions of a recovering church. The authors of the book describe what the next generation thinks about the church — in other words, how we are branded in the eyes of the next generation. It’s sobering stuff. They think we (the church in general) are hypocritical, judgmental, sheltered and too political. They think we are more concerned about selling them Jesus, than being their friends, and we hate homosexuals.
They did have a few good things to say…BUT… nobody mentioned words like grace, mercy, the world’s greatest friends, good listeners, servants, or LOVE.
See we can dialogue about whether or not we think that the brands fit, but what concerns me is that no one mentioned love. Yet in one of his final challenges to his disciples, Jesus said that the world would know that we are His followers by our love.
- They will not know we are his followers by the songs we sing.
- They will not know we are his followers by the miracles we do.
- They will not know we are his followers by the theology we preach.
- They will not know we are his followers by the crosses we wear.
- They will not know we are his followers by the churches we frequent.
It’s not a goal, it’s a result. The goal is following Jesus, the result of following Jesus is that we are branded by love. If we are not known for our love — what does that say about our goal?
So if you wanted to be branded by love — what actions would you need to take…today?