I love Chick Fil-A. In fact I regularly drive out of my way to get to their restaurant. My favorite thing to order? A Chicken Sandwich.
While driving, I start thinking how amazing everything will taste. The perfect combination of a soft bun with rich buttery flavor, the crispy moist fried chicken, that’s topped with tangy pickles. My mouth is watering as I drive.
I turn into the busy parking lot and I’m amazed of the multitude that want Chick Fil-A when I do. I finally capture a parking spot and envision the golden waffle fries that will accompany my sandwich as I race across the parking lot dodging all the cars entering and leaving. As I get to the door, I smell their food and can hardly wait for the friendly cashier to retrieve my chicken sandwich.
I open their door and I’m surprised by someone right inside. “Hello! I’m the Manager of this Chick Fil-A. I’m glad you’re here!” I respond with a smile, “Nice to meet you, I’m here for a chicken sandwich!” He replies quickly, “Awesome! We’re known for our Chicken Sandwiches. We invented them.” and I try to pass to get in the order line but he stops me with, “Before you get your sandwich, can I first tell you WHY we make our chicken sandwiches?”
I blink incredulously at him. I’d waited and anticipated my lunch. And quite frankly, I don’t really care WHY they make chicken sandwiches. In fact, I just WANT a chicken sandwich! And his talking is a barrier to my lunch.
OK, so what does this fictitious story have to do with anything? (And no, I don’t think any Chick Fil-A manager would ever do this.) Why? Because they know most are attracted by their food and not their mission.
Many church leaders work for days creating a long, pithy, mission and/or vision statement describing why a ministry exists, where they’re headed, and why people are devoted to them. The problem? Like entering into a restaurant, people are there for a product (or service) they need. Leading with a vision and/or mission statement can become a barrier to getting the actual product!
I just want a Chicken Sandwich. People from your community just want (insert something relevant to your community) when they’re looking for a church. It’s probably not an overly-religious product or service. But they believe they will find it at your house of worship.
So, lead with that message and not your mission and/or vision since they are internal concepts for fully-committed members. Brand threads (that talk solutions and/or paths to goals) are external messages that get the attention of outsiders.)
How do you do this? Convert your mission/vision (the WHY) and promote the WHAT when attracting people to your church. Only after they receive the benefit of your product do they need to know the WHY. And don’t do that too early or they may not stay.