Imagine if your church maintained focus on a solution to their community. Something that instantly got their attention and made the church relevant and needed to them. And then used those content “fences” to make their congregation known for something.
That’s what I call a communication thread. A brand promise or brand story that is maintained and controlled so that it unites ministries and tears down the ministry silos within our local churches. Some people call it a tagline, slogan, or positioning statement. But those concepts sound so temporary.
A longterm thread works as long as it’s “effective”. What are those criteria? Here’s a 5 question test to prove your thread will work over several years:
- Does your Audience look up? Your thread must be connected to an audience. In fact, an effective thread will usually be so strongly focused that someone can determine who you’re targeting from it. Geico Insurance’s thread “15 minutes could save you 15%” points to their audience: people who don’t have much time and don’t want to overpay for insurance. Remember, your community will rarely “look up” for something spiritual. So resist threads that scream “we are a church!” since at least a third of your community typically isn’t interested. Instead, consider that they’ll look up for something that they deal with daily. Jesus spoke to the Woman at the Well about water first before turning to spiritual things!
- Is it Unique? This is important. If every church in your neighborhood uses the same thread (i.e. “Better Together”) it loses its draw. Plus, search engines won’t know who to direct searches to. So try and say it differently with more unique keywords (without getting too odd). If you discover a 2-5 word thread check to see if you can get the URL — it’s a great read of whether it’s unique. Or at least google it (with quotes around it) to see how far down the list you’d probably be in results.
- Easy to Remember? In the quest to get it unique, churches often get too long. Or words that people don’t use regularly. If you do the standard church thread with 3 things (i.e. Inward. Upward. Outward.) fewer people will remember or use it. Try to be known for some… THING. Yes, one unique thing will be remembered much longer than 2 or 3. And make sure it rolls off the tongue by your primary audience. If it feels awkward to work it into your daily discussion, it’s the wrong thing. Say it simpler!
- Does it connect Ministries? Almost every ministry in your church will need to interpret the thread for their specific audience. If your thread is “Better Choices”, you can imagine how the kids ministry could use this, as well as the students, adults, and seniors. Used slightly different, but the same words. This is the power of an effective thread. Unique, causing unity, and actually used. Does this example assume a particular audience? Do you think there are enough people in a community who are trying to make good choices? Absolutely. Imagine how this could rollout for a recovery program!
- Does it pass the Smell Test? Does it sound Political? Can it be Misinterpreted? Don’t use it. Be careful if your audience could hear something that’s unintended. Pretend to be a preteen boy and ask yourself it could be use inappropriately. Don’t roll out a thread and discover it misses the mark of an effective, beneficial, desired slogan. Or worse, a joke.