Magic, Marketing, and Jesus

The Decisive Ball - Magic 8 For Organizations

The Decisive Ball – Magic 8 For Organizations

Impressed!  Which is a rare feeling for me.  I walked into my office this morning and discovered two very cool pieces of marketing on my desk.  The first was this sort of Magic 8 Ball for Businesses and Organizations.  Decisive is a new book by Chip and Dan Heath who also wrote Made to Stick and  Switch – two incredible books that every leader needs to read.  

Decisive is exactly what the title says… it helps people figure out who to make decisions effectively.  In outlines wonderful tools that any group or organization can use.  The Decisive Magic 8 Ball provides a wide variety of these principles and tools to help make decisions.  Truly, from a marketing standpoint, this ball is MAGIC!  What a cool toy and I got it for free!

Fantastic book marketing

Fantastic book marketing

The second piece of marketing that impressed me this morning was David Kinnaman’s new book You Lost Me.    Packaging was tremendous.  It included an invitation to a live signing event.  I can sign up for the event via EventBrite.  

This too was MAGIC!  I disagree with Kinnaman on a lot of things – but his organization gets marketing.  They do it really well.  

Most churches, on the other hand, do NOT do marketing all that well.  Obviously, there are some that do, but most do not.  I think the reason is this – most churches forget that people need MAGIC.  In a world full of advertising and messages, people want to enter into an experience that lifts them out of their lives, provides a message relevant to everyday life, and that provides them power and inspiration to go back to their lives with something they did not have before.  In other words – M A G I C !  

I had about 10 different tasks to do as soon as I arrived in the office – I put them all on hold to open these packages.  What MAGIC will we allow people to experience so that they will put their lives on hold to hear about a life and world transforming message?

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A New Kind of Pastor

Since I was a kid, I have spent hours upon hours imagining new ways of being church together.  The problem that church leaders run into is that the ideas we think are amazing, our congregational members do not like.  That should really not be surprising.  People who come to a worship service each Sunday like the experience and venue — usually many rows of people sitting looking at the back of another person’s head while we watch other heads on a stage who talk and sing to the people sitting in the rows.  That’s why these “regular church attenders” come to worship each week.  They like the experience!  The problem is the vast majority of people who do not like such an experience, who do not come to worship or participate in a faith community on a regular basis.  One of the chief complaints by these other groups is that they don’t like the format, it’s not interactive enough, they don’t want to be entertained or talked at or watch something for an hour.

My Senior Pastor, Steve Poos-Benson, is currently on Sabbatical studying the virtual church.  He just posted some thoughts about SimChurch here.  His thoughts about the virtual church have intersected with my own interest in online learning.  Places such as Khan Academy are revolutionizing the ways that schools and teachers function.  It’s places like Khan that get me thinking about the church and how we as congregations can function in new ways.  What if the Church could be revolutionized by this movement.  There are amazing preachers all over the world.  What if we could get them all on the same site together (think TED talks for the church – or actually, think of literally streaming a TED talk in a worship service – now that would be awesome).  Then, the pastors at various congregations could begin functioning in a different way.  Rather than having to spend 10-15 hours per week (some spend more than this) on a sermon and trying to be an amazing public speaker, the new kind of pastor could unpack these “master sermons from master preachers” for their local context.  Worship could then center on other worshipful acts such as singing, prayer, meditation, communion, celebration, and other liturgical acts while also allowing a pastor and the congregation to benefit from these master preachers.

In classrooms all around the US and the world, teachers are moving from lectures in the class and homework at home to a new structure where you watch master lectures on your screen at home and the teacher helps you apply the concepts with “classwork” rather than homework in the classroom.  What if our congregations picked up on this notion as well?  What if we began to have new kinds of pastors?

Who Will We Be?

We cannot be in the future who we are today. That is a fact. We change. We grow and we age. My congregation, Columbine United Church, is an evolving organism. Just look back five years ago to see how much has changed. Go back 10, 15, or 20 years and you will find something that seems to be an entirely different church. So the question before us at this moment is who will we be? It is not,how do we maintain our current situation?

Church Tomorrow

Over the past eight weeks, a huge wave of energy has moved into my current congregation. Our staff is buzzing, our lay leaders are jazzed, and each week more participants are coming up to me wanting to know how they can get on board. Several questions are at the heart of this new energy.

1.) What does it mean to be church today?
2.) How does one participate in church?
3.) Why are people participating in our congregation?
4.) Why do most people not participate in a congregation and how can we address that?
5.) What, if any, are the differences between online participants and physical participants?
6.) Most congregations function in Stage 3 of Fowler’s Stages of Faith. We do a decent job of helping people get to Stage 4. How do we become a congregation that facilitates people’s journeys beyond Stages 4 into 5 and beyond.

The church of tomorrow is already arriving. It many ways it’s unmapped terrain which makes it exciting but also produces fear and anxiety for those who were really comfortable with the church of yesterday.

Pastor as Spiritual Interpreter

I came across the following description of pastoring from the book Making Spiritual Sense–Christian Leaders as Spiritual Interpreters:

Everyone agrees that congregational leadership is important; few agree on exactly what it is. Some claim it has to do primarily with vision casting; others say it’s about effective administration; for others, serving as a change agent is most important. Yet all of these definitions forget that leadership in the church differs from leadership in other groups and organizations in one essential aspect: The congregational leader’s first calling is to help his or her parishioners see the world, and their place in it, through God’s eyes. God calls Christians to live transformed lives in a world in need of grace. God calls their leaders to help them adopt a set of perspectives, attitudes, and habits that make living as a Christian possible. This book will aid those leaders as they help Christians make spiritual sense of their lives.


I really liked this description. It definitely resonates with my view of the pastoral role.