Time for a Product Relaunch
When I was a kid, every product was "new and improved." Even if it had only existed for a year, it was "new and improved." That was the great advertising phrase of the 60's. As an adult, I have worked in helping corporations communicate with themselves and the public. Now, it's all about "re-branding." Branding is big. Everything has to have a brand identity, brand standards, brand message, brand integrity. If something isn't going exactly according to plan, then someone in the meeting is going to bring up "re-branding."
Now, not to bite the hand that underfeeds me, but companies or products cannot brand themselves. They can pick and push the identity they would like to have, but the public will decide what your brand means.
It's time for a re-brand on Christianity.
The public has decided that Christianity is not that great. If we did our market research (and churches have) we would find that Christianity is condemnatory, narrow-minded, and all the other negatives I've talked about before. It worries more about who goes to hell instead of who gets fed. One product line, fundamentalism, has been allowed to define the whole brand.
What do we do? How do we create a "new and improved" Christianity?
In more than one company when the product or service got sloppy, we looked back to the values of the founders. You go back to the basic ideas and ideals that started it all to see where things went off the rails:
"OK, we have this guy, Jesus, who really didn't start the company, but laid the groundwork and dispensed the basic philosophy."
"Great. What did he say?"
"Well, if you'll check the next slide, you can see that it was really rather simplistic and uh, on the surface, lacks the wow factor."
"Love one Another?"
"How am I supposed to sell 'love one another'? What's in it for the customer? What's the direct benefit?"
"There are a few more."
"Okay, whip it on me."
"He also said, "Love your neighbor as yourself."
"What does that mean? What neighbor? Which neighbor? Where's the market segment data? I'm not impressed with what you're giving me here."
"Well, he also wanted people to take care of the poor and the less fortunate and try to bring justice to the world."
"What about Heaven and Eternal Life and avoiding Hell and Damnation and all that? That I can sell. Fear can motivate! Better safe than sorry is a lot easier to understand than 'love your neighbor.'"
"All I'm doing is presenting the information as we found it. You asked for a founder's mission statement and that's what I'm trying to give you."
"What's the benefit? What's the purchase trigger? Can't this Jesus make me rich and successful or something like that? That's a good sell."
"Uh, I agree that's an easier sell, but again, I'm just telling you that the basic idea is to love and serve others and not be overly concerned with yourself. It's about helping now, not worrying about what happens later."
"Sounds pretty meek to me."
"Funny you should mention 'meek.'"
We really can't brand Christianity. We can't re-brand either. The public will place the value on our identity by the things we do and the way we function in the world.
A bank can show pictures of its employees working on a Habitat house, but if it's three doors down from four houses that bank foreclosed on illegally, the world will know. We cannot control the world opinion of Christianity. We shouldn't even worry about it.
We just need to do the basics and show love.
Jesus was not a Christian. We shouldn't concern ourselves about being "a Christian." It is better that we be "followers of Jesus" and let that whole "Christian" brand name thing take care of itself.
Following the teachings of Jesus will never need to be "new" or "improved."