Pastor’s Thoughts for October

As we are all well aware by now summer has moved on into autumn. Many among us lament the passing of the summer. And while I will miss the warm weather and sunshine, I always welcome this particular season; it has always been my favorite time of the year. The cool crisp mornings, the ushering in of the not too distant holiday season, the beautiful variety displayed by the changing of the colors of the leaves are just a few examples of why autumn is special.

As I was thinking about this time of year and why I consider it to be the best it occurred to me that I view the seasons almost like a brand. There are unique characteristics for every season, that which makes them different, just as there are unique characteristics of every marketable product. That thought then turned to other aspects of life that we don’t normally think of as being marketed. And that brought me to thinking about churches in general and our church in particular. Do churches have unique characteristics that we can identify? Does that make them a brand? I believe that it does.

All churches, I believe, have brands. And we can identify some of those attributes that make them a brand. There was a humor piece that was circulating around the internet a while back that I include here: How many (fill in the blank) does it take to change a light bulb?

Pentecostal: Ten. One to change the bulb and nine to pray against the spirit of darkness.

Presbyterians: None. Lights will go on and off at predestined times.

Roman Catholics: None. Candles only.

Baptists: At least 15. One to change the light bulb and three committees to approve the change and decide who brings the potato salad.

Episcopalians: Three. One to call the electrician, one to mix the drinks, and one to talk about how much better the old one was.

Mormons: Five. One man to change the bulb and four wives to tell him how to do it.

Unitarians: We choose not to make a statement either in favor of or against the need for a light bulb. However, if in your own journey you have found that light bulbs work for you, that is fine. You are invited to write a poem or compose a modern dance about your light bulb for the next Sunday service, in which we will explore a number of light bulb traditions, including incandescent, fluorescent, three-way, long-life, and tinted, all of which are equally valid paths to luminescence.

Methodists: Undetermined. Whether your light is bright, dull, or completely out, you are loved. You can be a light bulb, turnip bulb, or tulip bulb. A church-wide lighting service is planned for Sunday. Bring a bulb of your choice and a covered dish.

Nazarene: Six. One woman to replace the bulb while five men review the church lighting policy.

Lutherans: None. Lutherans don’t believe in change.

Amish: What’s a light bulb?

While this was written with a tongue-in-cheek tone, I think it illustrates the point. There are characteristics that can be attributed to churches, branding if you will allow me to say.

So, what is our brand? My belief is that it is our responsibility to make sure our “brand” doesn’t get in the way of reaching others with God’s love and truth. But what would others say?

In other words, if someone who regularly attends our church were to tell their friends about it, honestly, what would they say?

Would they say, “Eh. It’s pretty boring, but my wife makes me go”?

Would they say, “I always feel welcomed, from the minute I walk in the door”?

Would they say, “Really good music, nice people, but that sermon…”?

All churches are providing experiences for those who visit or try to visit. Some are good experiences, some not so much.

And this is why some churches need a brand adjustment.

By brand adjustment, I don’t mean a new logo or a more expensive bulletin printout. I simply mean that some churches need to be continually working to provide a better experience for those who are involved in their church, and for those who could potentially be involved in their church.

Does our church need to do a better job of reflecting Jesus’ love and grace in the experiences we are providing? Do we need a brand adjustment?