*Disclaimer: I work for a church, grew up in church. This means I have been on both ends of the process: consumer and producer of content. This hasn’t warped my view, instead, it has only enhanced it.
Churches need to be at the forefront of innovation; tech, creativity and otherwise. Fear. That is the main reason we’re not leading in these areas. There is a challenge that comes with working and operating in the church space — we all love Jesus, and must be kind to each other. I agree with this wholeheartedly. The trouble is we use it as a “get out of jail free” card when we should be applying ourselves. Let me explain.
More often than not, churches tend to follow trends – which isn’t necessarily a problem. The problem is, we tend to fall very far behind the curve. Question: when did your church wake-up to the reality that it needed a Facebook account? Or Instagram? There’s possibility that it was at the early stage of late adopters’ uptake. When most people were either entrenched or moving on.
I have also made a dangerous assumption — that people in our churches are late adopters. Which isn’t always true. Remember, they’re are still the same consumers outside your church–this time with a greater range of products to choose from. If people are happy with cutting edge innovation and creativity in their ‘normal lives’, why does we serve sub-standard content?
What should churches be doing? Setting the trends for the best of them, that’s what. For example, every year, in the United Kingdom, where I live, people look forward to the John Lewis’ (a department store), Christmas advert. It’s a big deal. The ad they create is often a heart-warming piece that brings together people from all walks of life around a family concept. Sound familiar?
John Lewis invests a lot in the process: time and energy, market research, casting, getting the right script and film crew and more. See the behind the scenes video from their 2018 campaign to get an idea.
In an attempt to attract a wide range of people, they put in the work necessary to achieve the results they need. And when they have landed a message, they measure themselves. Festive season sales are normally a good indicator.
Churches, on the other hand, run the risk of being complacent. We assume the same people will be back next Sunday, if they’re not — they have a heart issue. We seldom invest enough in keeping people engaged. And when we do, we’re doing the cheaper version of the John Lewis Advert. There’s nothing wrong with that, if you can pull it off. More often than not, it’s not great and it’s obvious. The saddest part:
We have the greatest message of all time – but the packaging needs to evolve.
How do we do this?
1. Develop A Healthy Culture Of Feedback
This F word is often treated as dirty. Because sometimes we veil our personal preferences and the dislike of something behind it. However, when used correctly, it can be the healthiest thing you can do for creativity and innovation. Feedback isn’t about breaking down or even building up a team, it’s about ensuring that a message is getting across.
2. Don’t Be Afraid To Scrap It
I am often struck by how long it takes for churches across the world to evolve in their use of tech, branding / style of communication, marketing, data capturing etc. Yet other entities have no trouble doing that, because they understand the short attention span of their viewers and the rapid pace of change.
We cannot always assume just because they have come to church they’ll settle for “an inferior” product.
Just because people are in church it doesn’t mean they’ll put up with an inferior “product”. This applies from tech to creativity and beyond. Shake off the fear and start innovating.