Does your organization have a vision statement? How about a mission statement? You probably do.

If you do not have these two vital statements, or if you have them but are not using them to guide your organization’s work, you are missing out on the simplest and most effective movement tools available. These statements of your vision and mission define and guide your organization’s ability to advance Kingdom efforts in your community.

But what is the difference between a vision and mission statement?

You could gather a dozen consultants in a room, and would receive a dozen different definitions and philosophies. To distinguish between vision and mission in your own work, you must default back to the plain English use of those words. I believe the best way to show the difference in usage of these two words is by adding the letters “ary” to the end of each word.

VisionARY
MissionARY

We certainly know what those two words mean. A visionary is someone who sees what could be and should be. A missionary is someone who carries out that work.

The best example is Jesus. Jesus was a visionary. He saw the potential, the possibilities of a blessed life. His missionaries carried his work and his words to the world, putting his vision into practice.

Your organization’s vision is all about what is possible, all about the future potential. The mission is what it takes to make that vision come true.

Oftentimes, I find churches and for-profit organizations stop with the identification of a vision and mission statement. This is sad.  Nothing happens when a vision and mission statement goes no further than a Word document or whiteboard.  Your identified vision and mission statement must be accompanied by action and integration in order to create movement.

Movement requires missionaries.  Remember, “Vision without action is a dream.  Action without vision is a nightmare.” You need both vision and action.

How do you best cast vision in your organization?  What ways have you seen work in mobilizing and encouraging people to be missionaries?

I recently met with a company which boasts great success in communication and team work. However, in recent company-wide survey, the company received a tremendously low score in shared vision, mission, and overall direction. Staff felt they understood their team goals well, but did not understand, and thus could not support, the overall company direction.

People felt anxious and confused with a lack of vision and purpose.  Over time the organization lost momentum and downsized staff.  Fear that no one knew where the company was going was the scariest of all to staff members. The fears were magnified by company leaders providing more information and meeting more frequently with staff.

Change is inevitable and communication and teamwork will always be of great necessity, but the power of a leader communicating a clear vision and mission for the future cannot be absent.

How does your organization lead with vision and mission?  What methods do you use in efforts to keep the vision and mission of your organization “fresh on the minds” of staff members?

Why is it that some logos or brand marks really stand out in a crowd and get noticed while others don’t? Why do some seem to be long lasting and continually build equity and awareness and others don’t? These are questions that many have asked and there are some key ideas and principles, which enable some brands to distinguish them from others and be more effective. Among those ideas and principles are the following: an effective logo is unique, meaningful, differentiated, flexible, consistent and sustainable.

Unique – Every organization is unique with its own set of ideas, attitudes, characteristics and values. It is this DNA that defines the organization and distinguishes it from its competitors. The logo or brand mark should reflect this unique essence and align with the organization’s distinct personality to help it stand out in a crowd.

Meaningful – Does the logo tell a story? Is it somehow connected to the mission, strategy, values or brand promise or is it just a cool design? It’s the story behind the logo that gives it meaning and significance. For example, the familiar Mercedes three-pointed star originally represented vehicles on land, at sea and in the air. However, as the brand has evolved, the symbol has now become associated with luxury, high performance and excellence.

Memorable – A great logo creates a strong awareness and recognition in the minds of consumers. It’s this identity or mark that people connect to the brand. The logo is not the brand but it is the entry point to the brand. The brand is the overall experience and is created through every form of communication.

In fact some logos like Shell, Apple and Nike are so memorable and recognizable that the companies have even dropped the names and we know and recognize them by the symbol only.

Differentiated – To be effective and avoid confusion in the minds of consumers, the logo must stand well on its own and be distinct in shape and color especially among competitors.

Flexible – The logo should be easy to reproduce consistently and work well at a variety of sizes and across all media. It should work well in black and white as well as color.

Consistent – The logo should always be used consistently. That means the positioning; proportions, arrangement and colors should never change. Think of Coca Cola for example. You never see the Coca Cola script in a color other than red and the script is always exactly the same. Many times I see a variety of logos being used within the same organization. Any time a variation of the logo is created unintentionally, it diminishes its overall effectiveness and creates confusion both internally and externally.  Regardless of whether you are using skywritinga vehicle wrap or a koozie can cooler to promote your business, the logo should be the same.

Sustainable – Styles and trends will always come and go, but an effective logo will be enduring. Some logos have remained virtually unchanged for decades. Others have gone through periodic updating and modification to give them a fresh look but still remain firmly connected to their original identity and meaning.

*Stay tuned for a post showcasing Top 10 Church Logos.

What do you believe makes an effective logo?

Content created by James Bethany and adapted from the book of Designing Branding Identity.

I no longer call websites, websites.  Instead I have elected to call websites, webexperiences.  Really, do you want a website or a webexperience?  Here are 4 essentials to having a great webexperience.  And, yes you must be GREAT in all 4 essentials.

Great Content

  • Do you clearly and concisely communicate who you are, what you do and why it matters? If you do not, the 3 remaining essentials mean nothing.
  • Content is king.  It is your foundation.

Great Functionality

  • Is your webexperience displayed with a strategy in mind?  Are you communicating what you think is important?  Or are you communicating what your user thinks is important?
  • Review your Google Analytics regularly.  These numbers are gold.  They give you the data you need to unfold what content is most important to your users.  Use this data to ensure your webexperience is an easy-to-use experience.

Great Design

  • Instantly users will see shape, color and then content on your webexperince.  Will they see clip-art or heart inspired design?

Great Awareness

  • We close with a very important essential.  It really matters not if you have great content, great functionality and great design unless people know your webexperience even exists! 
  • Properly use search engine optimization, map optimization, pay-per-click ads and social media campaigns to generate awareness.

What other essentials would you add to create a great webexperience?

A great brand strategy provides a central idea around which all programs, decisions, and communications are aligned. Without a strategy, every ministry program is accepted.  Without a strategy, everything is communicated.  Without strategy, any action is acceptable.

Brand strategy builds on a vision, is aligned with strategy, emerges from a church’s values.  The strategy reflects an in-depth understanding of the member’s perception and expectation.  Keep in mind that every brand strategy must resonate with key influencers (staff, members, community).

Ultimately, brand strategy is a guide that shapes communication efforts, makes it easier for church members to share information, and provides clarity, context and excitement for all.


Do you have personal or organizational goals you want to accomplish?  Want more people in small groups?  Want to lose 20 pounds?

I think you can!

God blessed me with the opportunity to be mentored by two extremely successful and godly men.  Greg Brenneman (Former CEO of Quiznos, Continental Airlines, Burger King) and Jeff Wells (Senior Pastor of WoodsEdge Community Church) taught us the Blue Chip Principle.  In Vegas or any poker game, blue chips hold the most value.  They simply are the most important chips in the hands of players.

The Blue Chip Principle are 3-4 core areas an individual or organization focuses all energy and resources on for a season.  Typically the time of focus lasts 3-6 months.  They argue that by identifying what is most important and focusing on this area with great attention over a short period produces results.

And, I completely AGREE.  I now practice the Blue Chip Principle in my personal life, family and business.  The key is FOCUS and EXECUTION.  You must identify what is most important (the blue chips) and vigorously and relentlessly handling these areas with pure excellence.  I invite you to try this principle in your own life.

I have never accomplished more goals in my life.  Try it.

I recently did my upcoming six month Blue Chips in ten minutes.  You already know what is most important to you in you current season of life.  Now get after it!

Here is mine.

Personal

  • Spend regular time with God
  • Think positively
  • Achieve and maintain 7% body fat goal
  • Invest deeply in meaningful relationships

Family

  • Pray  more with Meagan
  • Lead family devotional and missions
  • Develop family vision/devotional plan
  • Schedule one-on-one time with Meagan and kids

Business

  • Build customer base with network
  • Expand knowledge of industry work
  • Write and speak on core topics

How do you identify and execute goals?

I am often amazed in the lack of attention and resources churches give to guest experiences.  In most cases you have ONE opportunity to make a positive impression in the minds of guests.  If you prefer to deliver a poor guest experience, I have some tips for you -

  1. Do the opposite of your mission. Do not deliver on what you communicated you would deliver.
  2. Do confuse them on next steps to get connected. Do not communicate from stage, signage or print materials how they can join or get connected to your church.
  3. Do make them feel awkward. Do ask them in services to raise their hands if they are new. (Exaggeration.  Not sure if this still takes place.  It sure did in my church as a kid.)  Nonetheless do everything you can to create a comfortable and inviting environment.
  4. Do a horrible job of creating great learning environments for their children. Do make church boring for children and teens.
  5. Do talk in a different language. Do use BIG Christian words that you and your inner circle Christian friends understand.

Are you willing to take the next steps to create a positive guest experience?  Here are a couple of tips.

  1. Visit other churches and think like a guest.
  2. Find several people in your area who do not attend your church to visit your church and give you feedback.
  3. Pull together staff members and walk from the street to the seat and think like a guest.

How does your church create a positive guest experience?

My good friend is doing something incredible.  His name is Michael Smalley.  Michael is the son of Gary Smalley. Gary is a world renown marriage and parenting speaker and author.  Between the two of them they have created an insane amount of marriage and parenting resources that have changes lives of millions.  They are now offering these resources online for a low price!  Here are the details -

SmalleyTV.com is a powerful, online video service for churches, small groups, classes, and couples who want to go deeper in their studies on marriage, parenting, and spiritual growth. You get over a dozen studies immediately and special membership discounts on live online events and resources!

We created this site because we never want the cost of purchasing quality video studies and workbooks to ever prevent someone from growing in their marriage, family, or spiritual walk. With our premium membership, you get 24 hour access to over a dozen studies you can watch at home, church, or even on your smart phone! We even allow you to download the workbooks for free so you can dig deeper in your most important relationships.

Membership benefits are:

  • 24/7 access to over a dozen video studies and workbooks (with more new studies added every year)
  • Special discounts for live, online only, events featuring leading experts on marriage, parenting, and spiritual growth
  • One membership covers an entire church or organization!

For only $249 a year (That’s over $1,300 worth of video studies!), you gain access to over a dozen marriage, parenting, and spiritual growth studies by the Smalley’s. New online only studies will be added every year that are only accessible by members. That’s $249 a year per church, organization, small group, or couple for unlimited access to all our videos and workbooks. Never purchase separate studies again! You simply subscribe as a church and then distribute log in rights to members for FREE.

The current list of included studies are:

  • DNA of Relationships
  • About a Girl
  • The Marriage Study audio seminar
  • Keys to Loving Relationships 1-18
  • Homes of Honor Relationship series 1
  • Homes of Honor Relationship series 2
  • Homes of Honor Parenting
  • Wrestling with Gorillas
  • Reconstructing Love
  • I Promise
  • Secrets to Lasting Love
  • All You Need is Love

Subscribe Here

I love writing. It gives me an opportunity to flesh out ideas and encourage others. With that said, I am inviting you to share with me what you like me to write about in the areas of church vision, branding, communications and leadership. Go ahead. Fire away.

For several years I enjoyed being the Communications Pastor at two large churches in the Houston, Texas, area.  And while I found the experience to have been both challenging and rewarding, I often reflect back on those experiences and ask myself what I would have done differently.

Of course hindsight is 20/20, but the best lessons learned are often the ones we learn from experience.  Here is what I learned and what I firmly believe every Communications Leader should do.

Push and push senior leaders to consistently think about vision

If you do not know who you are and where you are going, all communications are pointless!  Yes, I said pointless.  Knowing who you are and where you are going allows you to narrow down key messages and to maximize the time you have in front of your audience.

Understand local culture and audience

Take the time to truly understand the people of your church and community.  I did not take the time to understand the thinking, background and decision-making process of the very people we were messaging!

Take the time to pull and analyze demographics.  Use Mission Insite for local demographic studies. Conduct surveys and focus groups.  Be dogmatic in your pursuit of understanding your audience.

Develop and execute brand guidelines

Nothing bothered me more than when a fellow staff member blatantly violated the brand of church.  But these staff members, who were great in their fields, knew ministry, not branding.

Guidelines help guide people.  That’s the point of them.   And it’s your job to give people guidelines about the what and why’s of communication. These brand guidelines should cover logo use, font treatments, as well as colors and applications of church publications.

Act as the “expert”

It took me a long time to understand this point.  Your staff team needs and expects you to be the expert.

Oftentimes I allowed a Student Pastor or Adult Pastor to lead me on design and marketing projects.  But just as you do not walk into the Student Pastor’s office and tell him how to minister to teenagers, you should not allow him to be the expert in Communications.   You are the expert.

Operate in a posture of “yes”

Because you are the “expert”, it is easy to always say “no.”

  • No you cannot have an announcement.
  • No we cannot design a banner for your ministry.

If you consistently say “no”, ministry leaders will go around you to execute projects.  And trust me, that is far worse than you taking the time needed to find solutions for their needs.

Have this mindset when it comes to serving the ministries of your church: “We want to help your ministry succeed and we can find effective ways to help you communicate.”

Ask for help

Now that I am a Church Consultant, that is easy to say!  But it is true.  When you work on a church staff, your learning can come to a halting stop as you are neck deep in day-to-day projects.  You need a fresh and reviving view of your work.

Bring in consultants, other local thought leaders and/or staff members to help you learn and grow.  You will be surprised how creativity and innovation grows with your humility to solicit help.

Mobilize volunteers

One of these churches I supported did a large serving campaign.  The number of people wanting to serve in Marketing and Communications far exceeded any other serving opportunity.  More people wanted to serve in my department than any other ministry of the church!

The bottom line: Use volunteers.

Spend most of your budget on storytelling

At the end of the day, stories move people.  Effective storytelling is always more effective than just another event announcement.   Vigorously find and celebrate the stories of people within and outside your church.

Finally, I am starting a 6 session Communications Pastor Network where I will coach each Pastor on vision clarity, branding, communications, processes and systems.  Contact me if interested.

Which point is most helpful for you?  What would you have done differently in the area of church communications?