Changing the World
By: Jason Otis
Recently, I came across a great quote: "The world is more malleable than you think and it's waiting for you to hammer it into shape." These words were in a commencement speech given by rock star and activist Bono, well-known for his commitment to causes.
He's got a point. Our student days may infuse us with a wide-eyed, optimistic outlook intent on changing the world. But somewhere between classrooms and mortgage payments, and mounting pressures of life, the clarity and optimism of effecting change wanes.
We assume leadership roles in ministries that were created to impact eternity, yet we sense that our ministry's vision isn't happening. We know others could be responding, more lives could be changing. Yet we're not seeing the fruit that is surely somewhere within reach.
Is it because we lost our way? Perhaps. But just as likely, we've just lost our momentum.
Scripturally, every one of us and the organizations we're a part of have the power within to cause change. But how can our ordinary organizations become hyper-productive and consistent about life-giving change?
What's the connection between our ministries and changing the world? I believe it's within the things we do. For a ministry to build momentum toward their purpose, six factors should be present:
As Christians, we can know with confidence that none of us are here without a reason or a purpose. And that goes as well for our Christian ministries. Let's start there and get our focus back. If you want to build momentum in ministry, begin by knowing your ministry's identity and clarifying your ministry's purpose. Understand the reason your church exists, the calling you are pursuing, the kind of culture you are creating and the people you are trying to reach.
Once you know your focus, you need a framework to align and guide everyone's actions, tasks and assignments so all the people on your team are moving in that direction. This means aligning leadership to this focus, including training staff and involving members while you seek to lead by example with authenticity, ambition and consistency. With these first two steps alone, you'll begin to feel momentum building, but don't stop there. The next steps are just as critical.
We're all wired to constantly gather clues around us to make decisions and form opinions. So just for a minute, imagine you're a guest. What if you could manage all those seemingly disparate "clues" a guest uses to guide how they connect with your church and its mission? You can. This is done by intentionally designing each element (or clue) to work together so that they all reinforce your identity and purpose. They come together with your visual and stylistic preferences to help form your brand. Creating continuity between everything seen, heard, read and experienced evokes recognition, fortifies your identity and makes your purpose accessible.
Involving God's people in His service is an awesome opportunity to change their lives (as well as those they serve). But sometimes they need a path. They need to know which church to join, which ministry to try, which room to enter. Your brand will help your visitors get a feel for the organization they are joining, and when they know what you stand for, they're more likely to find their place within it and get involved. Your ministry will build momentum when you offer actions that are simple to visualize, understand, explain, join and share. Start by creating communications that are inspiring, easy to access and effortless to share, then be ready to foster that activity by helping members serve where they can make an impact toward the purpose of your church.
Christian ministry has the potential to be the most motivating kind of work on earth – though there is potential for discouragement and burn out. So how can you keep everyone motivated in order to keep that momentum building? Cultivate it. Celebrate every achievement, give recognition and keep morale high by publicly celebrating every victory that parallels your purpose. If encouragement in regular doses didn't matter, no one would need to read the Psalms a second time, right? As your brand reinforces who your ministry is and why your work is so important, you will help sustain the motivation that everyone needs.
As momentum happens, remember that change does to. Even as you align your actions with your focus, and provide the design backdrop that supports your messages, and seek to involve and motivate others, stay alert to where you are. Measure your impact and realign often. Remember human nature in the pursuit of a divine cause: big changes could curb momentum, but incremental changes to your environment, actions and message can increase the velocity of your momentum.
With this process, you'll not only regain your youthful optimism, but your church will also become known for the lives that are enriched by having a clear purpose that's easy to connect with, participate in and experience the results of. Building a brand that fosters this momentum takes time, dedication, and consistency – but the reward of experiencing lives changed from the inside out is worth the effort.
That's the connection between branding and changing the world.
Jason Otis is vice president of marketing for Axletree Media (http://axletree.am), a company that serves churches and organizations excited about using technology in attractive ways to reach, teach and share the love of Christ. Learn more about their new publishing platform at http://thrive.am or share your thoughts on this article at www.facebook.com/thriveam.