Why Branding Matters in your Church and Organization.

What do you think of when you think branding? Logos? A set of colors? A tagline?  All of these can play a key role in the development of the branding of an organization or church. They each play a role in connecting with the head of your audience.

However, I believe there is one aspect of branding that too many organizations, especially churches, are overlooking. Logos and tag lines can all communicate to the head, but what about the heart? How are people connecting emotionally with your brand? Most likely, when someone thinks of your church or organization, they are not thinking about your logo. They are thinking about how you make them feel. Great branding connects the heart of the audience with the heart of your organization.

Nothing puts this concept on display more than Super Bowl commercials. It’s the one time during the year that I’ll use my DVR to go BACK to a commercial instead of using it to quickly fast-forward through commercials. But on Super Bowl Sunday, it’s different. This is a time when the brands of our country are on display to get noticed and create a lasting impression.

Not so long ago, you knew where your front door was. It was the door everyone entered on Sunday morning, on the way to your service.

Not so now. Today, most people “enter” your church or organization through your website, which functions as your new front door.

Within minutes people will make a decision whether your brand is connecting to their heart. For that reason, your website is just as important as your Sunday service ~ perhaps even more so, because what people see on your website will determine whether or not you’ll ever see them on a Sunday morning.

If your website is outdated, disorganized, or incomplete, people who find it in a web search are going to get the impression that your brand and church is, too.

Your brand is more than your logo. Your brand is the stories you tell, and the way that you tell them. It’s the way you make people laugh, cry, smile or feel.

I believe we have the most powerful and life-changing story to tell in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s incredibly easy to be consumed with how we connect our brand and information with the head of our audience. There are events to promote, services to communicate at, and things to be created. All of those are important. But none are more critical than how we’re communicating to the heart of our audience. Great branding connects the heart of the audience with the heart of your organization.


Passion is different than emotion. Emotion demands the moment; passion demands a marathon. Emotion looks for what it can get; passion looks for what it can give. Emotion is necessary, even powerful, but passion is the daily fire of momentum when you fall out of like with something. It burns without burning you.
— J.S.

Rest well Ed Dobson

sharepng-d0a791b42c04d075A few years ago I was teaching a series at The Caring Place’s Family Life Center entitled “Why do bad things happen to good people” I came across Ed Dobson’s story and decided to reach-out to Ed with some questions and to my surprise he was quick to respond.  Ed’s life story touched so many lives. Heaven sure got a good one.

A wonderful man and life well lived. Prayers for the Dobson family and thanks to God for Ed’s amazing life and impact. You will be missed, rest well my friend.

ED’S STORY It Ain’t Over from Flannel Staff on Vimeo.


imageBurning Out

Let’s look at the math here. It will make it obvious that creating a sustainable pace is in everybody’s best interests. Say you’re serving at the local soup kitchen for eight hours a week, and after six months you burn out. Six months contain twenty-six weeks. So in your sprint you’ve contributed two hundred and eight hours before you collapse in a heap. And it’s likely that after burning out, you won’t be returning.

Let’s say, on the other hand, that after some prayerful consideration, you decide you can sustain a pace of two hours a week indefinitely. Let’s say you keep that up for four years before you decide to take a break. After some time off, you’ll likely return because you’ve not reduced yourself to an oil spot on the rug. Four years contain two hundred and eight weeks. If you average two hours per week over a four-year period, you will have contributed around four hundred hours, given some time off for vacation and the occasional flu bug. That’s about twice what you would have done at the burnout rate of serving, not to mention that after a break you’ll probably be back for another multi-year stint. What’s more, serving has become a part of the way you live your life. It has transitioned from being a short-term event to being a lifestyle. It has become one of the things that define who you are.

It’s likely that this is not new information for you… I bet you’ve heard it before. We all understand the idea of burnout. It’s not quantum mechanics. The vexing thing is that it’s usually hard to recognize in your own life. Or maybe we do recognize it but are reluctant to admit it. In either case, by the time we figure it out or admit that it’s happening, it’s too late. The damage is done.

I want to give you a list–the seven signs of burnout. I don’t usually go in for acronyms. They tend to be a bit cheesy. But despite the cheese factor, perhaps this will sound the alarm next time burnout starts to creep into your life. Watch for these signs:
Bad attitude. This is self-explanatory.
Unfulfilled. Serving ceases to be satisfying.
Reactionary rather than proactive. You sit around waiting to be told what to do.
Non-communicative. You stop returning people’s emails.
Overly stressed. It’s the feeling that you’re carrying the world on your shoulders.
Unmotivated. It’s not that you don’t have any energy–you just don’t care.
Tired. Fatigue becomes your new normal.

Everybody has the occasional bad day. So when a few of these pop up every once in a while, it’s not time to panic. You’ll probably be fine tomorrow. But if several of these signs start to become chronic, then it’s time to do something. The place to start is admitting that you’re burned out. The longer you wait, the worse it will get. At some point, if you refuse to do anything, your body will begin to protest. Your resistance to things like colds or flu will start to diminish. You might have trouble sleeping. But there’s no need for those things to happen. The good news is that once you admit you have a problem, there are some practical steps you can do to remedy the situation and prevent it from happening again.


Global Leadership Summit Session 6 : Sam Adeyemi

  • 2015-Sam-Adeyemi-Low-Res-Web_Color-Circle-300x300Just like Bill said… Just like Jim said… then you’re suppose to clap and laugh.
  • Crushing the power chasm
  • Our church grew so slowly I was frustrated.
  • I heard the Lord say, “Why do you want the church to grow?”
  • When God asks questions, you need to remember that it is not that God doesn’t know the answers. He’s trying to reveal what’s in you already, mostly our foolish ideas.
  • You will not find the definition of success for your ministry or organization until you help the people I sent to you already succeed.
  • The object of leadership for many leaders is their own success, but the object of Christ’s leadership was the success of His followers.
  • John 14:12
  • When we see our churches aren’t growing, we don’t know the real reason. James says you pray and you don’t get because you ask for the wrong reasons.
  • Following you should hold the promise of life change for those who follow you.
  • The Bible is a summary. John said no book could contain all that Jesus said and did.
  • “Follow me” and they did. Do you think it was as simple as that? If I was Zebedee, I would follow him too. I would pull him aside and ask some questions.
  • By the time he was done, those two young men and their father agreed that they would make better use of their lives following Jesus.
  • I was use to a culture where being a leader makes you superior to those you are leading. In that culture, leaders don’t empower followers.
  • Mark 10:42
  • What that creates is a hierarchal culture. The power have all the power. Those without power are powerless. They feel like they can’t change anything.  They reflect the fact that power is not shared.
  • There is a downside to power distance. The downside to power distance that it can leave followers with low self-esteem and afraid to follow you. They tend to have to wait for approval before they can do anything.
  • There is a setting where leads are less accountable. This can lead to moral failure and misconduct.
  • Jesus crushed the power gap betweeen men and women, adults and children, leaders and their followers.
  • Jesus confronted the gap between men and women. They brought Jesus the woman caught in adultery. Where was the guy?
  • Jesus crushed the gap between adults and children. Children were powerless. They were to be seen and not heard or not even seen. When Jesus was speaking to the crowd, children were clamoring to get to Jesus. The disciples shooed them away. He stopped and brought the kids. “You need to be like these kids if you want to be in God’s Kingdom.”
  • Jesus crushed the power gaps in the church. The Pharisees separated themselves from the broken and sinners. He was confronting the power structure.
  • I wonder what would I do if I was Jesus and I was walking on water and Peter spoke to me. I would ask Peter, “When you were baptized, were the heavens split open? Did a dove descend? Have you fasted 40 days and nights? If you love your life, stay in that boat.” But Jesus said, “If I can do it, you can do it too. Get out of the boat. Walk on water!”
  • There is something about leaders and talented people that makes us think others cannot do what we do.
  • We are the ones God called; we are the anointed…so we don’t delegate authority.
  • Numbers: the people are tired of eating carbs and they want protein.
  • Shepherds feed sheep. Feed the sheep and more sheep will show up.
  • If you lead where I do, you have a huge opportunity.
  • If you are in an under-resourced part of the world, see it is an unusual opportunity.
  • Abraham, Isaac, etc. they were all businessmen.
  • It is not the absence of money that makes you poor.
  • You need ideas. You need ideas, not money to start a business.
  • Whatever challenges you have where you are, realize that they are opportunities to empower others.
  • Luke 22:27
  • Pray for people. God will give you visions for cities, nations, whole generations.

Global Leadership Summit 2015 Session 6 : Brian Houston

  • 2015-Brian-Houston-Low-Res-Web_Color-Circle-300x300“Paul, an apostle, called by the will of God to the saints of Ephesus…” I feel like I have that type of clarity.
  • I put unrealistic pressure on myself. You need to be comfortable to understand grace, be comfortable in your skin.
  • Started in a gymnastic hall. Grabbed a rope and swang out over the audience. It must have grabbed the attention of one guy and he invited some friends. It started the momentum within our church.
  • In 1999, I was having a normal meeting with the administrative guy at our church. We had a complaint that my father had abused a young male. It hit me as a leader, a pastor, a son, a father.
  • There’s a leadership function you have to perform & your own soul that you need to care for. How do you do it? As a leader, I go into leadership mode. It’s incredible because the church went on the journey with us through it.
  • I was in the danger zone. In one of our smallest campuses, I felt myself collapsing. My mind was clouded. I felt like I was talking like a baby. I was having trouble breathing. It was a panic attack. The end result was that I had to confront things.
  • Made changes? Changes to the way that I traveled. No more sleeping tablets. Put more disciplines in my life.
  • Darlene (Zschech) was a blessing to our church. I always wanted to be a church that wrote songs, led the church. I always wanted to be a church that helped build up other churches.
  • Joel hated his piano lessons. One day his instructor said his homework was writing a song. Creativity is what switched him on. God just took it to another level. He wrote a song and we started singing, “Everyday.” I looked at someone and said, “Who wrote this?” They said, “Joel.” My response was “Joel who?”
  • Had did the transition between Darlene & Joel go? It was Mark & Darlene’s time; they needed to go. It was a slow process. It took like 10 years. We sent them out with a good heart. The miracle of our church is that through different times and different seasons the church has been resilient. God really does build his church.
  • In most organizations, who you start with is not who stays with it all the way through? When you start, there is people who you think will be with you forever. It’s always good to take your time.
  • You can only build on people who want to be there. I don’t try to hold on to people. People may be close to you geographically that are not as close to you relationally.
  • Planted in some tough places? We don’t go to the Bible belt. We go to tougher places. The culture of our church works well in those places. It’s a mistake to build a London church. We’ve planted a Hillsong church in London. We’ve just been true to ourselves. We’re getting ready sites 14 & 15 in Buenos Aires and San Paulo.
  • God created music for the sole purpose of connecting with the human heart.
  • “Brian, every time I’m around you, my faith is expanded. You have an anointing on your life that tells people that God can do great things.” – Hybels
  • I love what I do. I love the Lord and I love the church and I love people ultimately. In the darkest days, in the biggest challenges.
  • A long journey is the greatest strength you can have as a leader.

Global Leadership Summit Session 5 : Horst Schulze

  • 2015 Horst Shulze Low Res Web_Color Circle (1)They told me that 250,000 people were watching this. I thought wow, 4 or 5 more and it’d be scary for a speaker.
  • Ladies and Gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.
  • The maitre d’ was thought of as the most important person in the room. He didn’t come into work to serve; he came to work to serve.
  • Caring is what service really means.
  • What industry is not in service?
  • The number one thing you should do: keep the customer. Create loyal customers. There is dissatisfied customers, they are terrorists against your customers. Satisfied customers are neutral. But if your competitor offers a better deal, they’ll go to them.
  • The number two: find new customers
  • The number three: get as much money from the customers
  • The number four: work on your efficiency
  • What does customer loyalty really mean? Your customer, your guest, your patient, your clients whatever you call them… Customer loyalty means they trust you.
  • How do you develop trust? By giving the customer what they want.
  • I talk nothing but facts so consequently if you don’t agree with me, you’re wrong.
  • The #1 driver of customer loyalty is being nice to the customer. This is true in any industry.
  • Service starts somewhere and ends somewhere. We have to define it. Service starts the instant you make contact. The first 10 seconds are essentially important. Within 12 feet of the door, we train our team to greet people. “Welcome, I’m here for you.”
  • The second step of service is complying to their needs: caring.
  • Call them by name.
  • I was suppose to talk to them about customer satisfaction. The day before I went to visit. You could feel the money. It was stately, beautiful, long mahogney counter. I get into the maze. I count the customers, I count the tellers. When she looked up, it was totally clear, she hated me. I take my product at me, no defect. Timeliness was excellent. But what was the effect.
  • The most important part of the product was service.
  • Personalized and individualized customers create loyal customers.
  • You’re the leaders, lead them to excellence.
  • Create: excellence should be a part of our excellence. Serve your employees by leading them to excellence. Serve your employees by demanding excellence.
  • The employee cannot help that they are not strong, but you are the dummy that hired them. Why do we forfeit? We are responsible for creating excellence. We do not hire people in our organization; we select people. We carefully select.
  • We orient people. In every new hotel, in Shanghai or Philadelphia, I do the orientation. I stand in front of the new employees. “I say, I’m Horst Schulze, the CEO and President of this company and I’m a very important person….and so are you.”
  • Every human being is an important human being.
  • “If you don’t do your jobs, it’s a disaster. You’re really important. If I don’t do my job, noone will know.”
  • We’re leaders. We’ve forfeited our rights to make excuses.
  • Where are you leading your people too? Is the destination good for everyone?
  • I never hire people to fulfill a function; I hire people to join a dream.
  • We measure satisfaction. We expect top-box. We expect 90% of our guests to be top-box.
  • What is my job? To help them accomplish the vision of our organization.
  • The key product we produce is service to human beings.
  • 24 pointsof the Capella Group. Every day we repeat one point. If it’s important, we have to repeat it.
  • You know what Coca-cola is. Then why do they advertise? Everyday we remind them.
  • If you get a complaint, you own it.
  • The purpose is clearly explained. It’s selection, orienting, training, sustaining.
  • Our employees are our neighbors. It’s not enough to give them a new name and call them an “associate.” It’s not enough to give them the “team speech.” We orient them to who we are, our dream, our direction. Be part and have a purpose.
  • Come to work not to work; come to work to create excellence.
  • If you respect your customer, you have to teach it. You have to respect your employees. It is the moral thing to do.

Global Leadership Summit 2015 Session 3: Brene Brown

  • 2015-Brene-Brown-Low-Res-Web_Color-Circle-300x300I want to tell you a story about vulnerability, shame, rising strong and love.
  • My husband and I were going to pool our vacation and rent a vacation house on Lake Travis.
  • Steve and I met when we were competitive swimmers. Steve still swims; I’m a shame researcher.
  • I look at Steve and say, “I’m so happy right now. I feel so connected to you.” He says, “Yep. Water’s great.” It happens again.
  • The gift of mid-life is that you can play the tape to the end.
  • What is the emotion that we feel when we make a bid for emotion and that emotion is pushed away? Shame.
  • Here we are in this perfect shame storm.
  • The #1 shame issue for women is appearance and body image. The #1 shame issue for men is appearance and weakness.
  • The biggest perpretator of shame for men is women.
  • How many of you have shared your vulnerable about yourself with someone and then they use it against you?
  • We want more love, more intimacy, more joy but the only path to those things is more vulnerability.
  • Our brain is neuro-biologically hard-wired in the moment that something happens to make up a story about what is happening. The brain rewards you whether it is accurate or not.
  • The stories we make up have good guys, bad guys, safe people and dangerous people. Limited data points filled in with values and conceals is called a conspiracy.
  • Fast Company and Ed Catmull – Creativity Inc – the middle space when you’ve started something where you’re not done but you can’t go back. In the military it’s the point of no return.
  • Who you are in that space (the middle space) is where leadership is born, that’s where courage is forged.
  • Act 1 – The character starts a journey; Act 2 – The character tries everything to get the job done; Act 3 – The character gets the job done.
  • I’m so good payback. I’m really good at self-righteousness, the better than…
  • What happened on the swim back was what I’ve learned from Rising Strong.
  • The reckoning, the rumble, the resolution
  • What do transformational leaders share in common? 1) They do discomfort.  2) They have absolute emotional awareness of their own life and those around them.  You can’t ignore it. We’re not thinking beings that sometimes feel. We’re emotional beings that sometimes think. Speak to their emotions first.
  • Curiousity and lines of inquiry are the greatest tools for leaders.
  • We have to rumble with emotion. We need to walk in and get brave talking about discomfort.
  • “In our culture, we clap for the truth.”
  • You can choose courage or you can choose comfort, but you can’t have both.
  • Our check-in with our leadership team: what do you need to rumble today?
  • Our worthiness as people live inside these stories. When we pretend the hard things aren’t happening, we deny. When we own the stories, we get to write the ending.
  • Courage is uncomfortable, that’s why it’s rare.
  • The bravest among us will always be the most brokenhearted because we have the courage to love. Those of us who have the courage to care will always know disappointment. Those who have the courage to try new things will always know the pain of failure.
  • If you’re brave enough, often enough, you are going to fail. What I can tell you from my life, there is nothing more dangerous to the critic and cynics than those who’re willing to fail.

Global Leadership Summit 2015 Session 1: Bill Hybels

  • 2015-Bill-Hybels-Low-Res-Web_Color-Circle-300x300We move leadership as moving people from here to there.
  • Leadership is not about presiding over something. It’s not about pontificating. It’s about moving people or an organization somewhere.
  • Some are just starting out and you’re asking: Can I do this?
  • Some are midway and you’re asking: Can I sustain this?
  • Some are near the finish line and you’re asking: Can I take this across the finish line? Can I transition this to the next leader?
  • 10% of you are considering quitting what you’re doing right now.
  • Armed with enough humility, leaders can learn from anyone. Pastors can learn with business leaders and business leaders can learn from pastors. The old can learn from the young, the young from the old.
  • The Intangibles of Leadership
  • It’s these leadership intangibles that set leaders apart.

The first intangible: grit.

  • Why do lesser talented outperform their peers? They have grit – passion & perseverance over the long haul. It’s steely tenacity demonstrated over decades. Gritty people expect progress to be difficult.
  • The Little Engine that Could – “I think I can”
  • Abraham Lincoln had grit. He ended the scourge of slavery and brought our country together after a bloody civil war.
  • Nelson Mandela had it. Gandhi had it. The question today is: Do you have it?
  • Grit Assessment Test – http://willowcreek.com/Survey
  • Can grit be developed? Yes it can be developed. The arch enemy of grit is ease. Grit development demands difficulty.
  • Task assigned to son that was difficult on purpose.
  • Most elite leaders push themselves physically. Jim Collins is a rock climber. Richard Branson is a windsurfer. Condoleeza Rice works out every morning at 5am. Why? Overcoming physical challenges is one way to grow grit.
  • They volunteered for extra work assignments and then showed steely determination in carrying it out.
  • “Don’t just deliver the required result. Over deliver and over deliver every time.” – Jack Welch
  • Hang around people who have grit because it can rub off.
  • When senior leaders over deliver, demonstrate grit, teammates notice and develop an appetite for grit.
  • Gritty organizations are unstoppable.

The second intangible: self-awareness

  • Young pastor that led churches to drowning debt. The better question: who are you trying to best? He was totally unaware that the decisions he was making everyday were tethered to his past.
  • In the midst of exciting time, young CEO quit unexpectantly. Her parents were alcoholics and would fight. She tried to keep fights from happening. When board was divided, she couldn’t handle it.
  • Blindspots in the lives of leaders. Leaders can believe they are great at something when everyone on the team knows that it is not true.
  • All of us leaders have 3.4 blindspots. You know how that’s true. When I said that, you immediately said, not me.
  • The danger with blindspots is that you have no idea that they exist.
  • I thought I was awesome under pressure. Female colleague said, “I’m not getting on the crazy train.”
  • “When you overwork, you’re not happy unless everyone around you is overworking too.”
  • I walked quickly past a guy washing a window and whistling. I thought, “He ought to be as miserable as me.”
  • Once I identified it as a blindspot, I could move it into a weakness category.
  • Do you have any blindspots?
  • Want the truth about your blindspots? Line up all your current and former spouses. They’ll let you know.
  • Knowing how your past is messing with your decisions today is crucial.
  • How do you grow in self-awareness? Growth in self-awareness requires being among others. It requires colleagues, supervisors, counselors, coaches.
  • Hearing the feedback may be very hard but realize that they are rooting for you to get better.

The third intangible: resourcefulness

  • Organizations that promote this area grow 25% faster than others.
  • David McCullough, The Wright Brothers – they studied birds for years. They moved from OH to NC. Every time they came up against a challenge, they experimented and failed and stayed at it until they figured it out.That’s just what resourceful people do.
  • So much of your success in coming years will be dependent on your ability to grow in resourcefulness.
  • How can you grow in resourcefulness?
  • Identify real problems and then assemble short-term task forces of young leaders to solve these problems.
  • How can you learn more about this? Figure it out.

The fourth intangible: self-sacrificing love

  • David has a less-than-dream team. He identifies, grows and develops his team. The soldiers begin to realize that they are not just a piece of equipment in this militia. This melts their heart toward David. They feel a great loyalty and appreciation to David.
  • David mentions drinking water from a well. His leaders risked their lives and got him the water.
  • 2 Samuel 23:16 – David refused to drink the water.
  • David had a flashback to the beginning. He realized that all his investment in these three guys has paid off.
  • I want you to love them like family. I want this to be personal. Serve them. Invest in them. Pray for them by name. What God was teaching David was that self-sacrificing love is at the core of leadership.
  • 1 Corinthians 13:8 – “Love never fails.”
  • Love changes people. Love melts people and molds people into tightly-knit communities.
  • How do you think that experience effected David’s top three guys?
  • We live in a day of celebrity leaders with narcissistic blood flowing through their veins. We live in a day where trust in organizations is low and cynicism is high.
  • Everyone in an organization takes their cues from senior leaders.
  • Gallup – do workers feel personal concern coming from their managers? In organizations where workers feel genuine love, they perform better.
  • Love never fails. Love re-orders things.
  • A theology professor challenged me and changed my life. His lecture about the beauty, power and potential of the local church rattled me. If he had waved me off with professional reserve, if he had handed me over to a neophyte intern, it would have put out the flame that was just being lit within my heart.
  • I couldn’t believe that Dr B invited to cook me lunch and spend an afternoon talking with me about my future. That was the day Willow Creek Community Church was born. For 40 years, Dr B has invested and mentored me.
  • I wish every single leader had someone like him in their life.
  • 1 Corinthians 13 with the lens of leadership.
  • Don’t hesitate a single addition moment to express genuine love and concern to your teammates. Get personal. Say the affirming or encouraging words. Doing so will humanize your workplace. This all starts with the senior most leader. The quality of your loving will set the tone for the entire organization.

The fifth intangible: sense of meaning

  • Simon Sinek, Start with Why – life can be explained with three circles: what, how, why
  • Most people understand the what and how of organizations. The disconnect is the why.
  • In their new book, Jack & Suzie Welch suggest renaming every senior leaders title to Chief Meaning Officer.
  • I want to talk with you about your white-hot why. Why you do what you do.
  • Bob Buford – what goes into the top box?
  • What is in your top box? Your why will either fuel you to higher and higher levels of inspiration or will reveal that what it’s in your top box really doesn’t matter.
  • Steve Jobs – “You want to keep selling sugar water or you want to join me and change the world.”
  • Howard Schulz – “We create a third place in the life of people.”
  • Richard Stern, Compassion – used to work for Lennox. Shifted his why from making luxury plates for rich people to putting food on the plates of starving people around the world
  • What is in your top box? What is it that moves you and drives you as a leader to get better and better?
  • My white-hot why? Fair warning: it’s a little religious.
  • Wrote God at the top. He’s perfect. Then drew a line. Mother Theresa, Billy Graham, Pope Francis – “I’m a really sinful man that God has looked kindly upon.” You have a gap, but God sees your gap. He puts us in right standing with God.
  • This message transformed my life. My white-hot why is never gone be money, fame or power. My white-hot why is transformed lives.
  • My passion 40 years into this is stronger now than ever before.
  • Life is too short to live with no why, or a fuzzy why or someone else’s why.
  • Find your why and live it out with all you have.
  • Getting a white-hot why will develop grit, self-awareness, resourcefulness, self-sacrificing love.
  • Two weeks ago, my wife’s mother died. In recent days, I’ve been reminded a fresh about how much leadership matters. It matters in every industry, across all disciplines. It matters in life and it matters in death.
  • Step it up! Find your white-hot why and turn over heaven and earth to fulfill it.