Tag Archives: business

How to make your church more popular

I’m kicking myself — I’ve been completely oblivious to something right under my nose. Here’s my no-duh moment: Of course people who elevate casual and contemporary services are primarily concerned with numbers.

Membership. Attendance. Popularity.

It’s been called “social proof” by Dr. Robert Cialdini, psychologist and author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. When other people like it, you should like it, too.

I think of it this way: In the non-rational zones of anyone’s emotions and social interactions, we can expect to find a sort of default formulation that looks something like this, if applied to local congregations:

What Will Draw And Keep People = Big Congregation = Status Of Success = Implicit Proof Of The Best Theology Or Doctrine Or Worship Style Or Order Of Service Or Sound System Or Pastoral Hair Gel Or Whatever The Leadership Deems Most Important To Get Butts In The Seats = It Worked!

People will think, “That church is so big — they must be right, and I’m left out. Honey, we should check that place out next Sunday.”

Novelty works for a while. Any retailer will tell you novelty is a great way to get people in the door. However, novelty only remains novel for so long. So congregants, like consumers, eventually look for a new novelty. How can anyone use Novelty 2.0 to compete when Novelty 3.0 is available in the same market?

Thus, church leadership continually finds itself in a state of cyclical exasperation: The leaders must fine-tune that which is not fine-tunable — meaning, human beings.

(In some churches, it means trying to fine-tune God’s Sovereignty, which is by definition impossible, so each effort in ministry can be likened to a hamster’s efforts to keep the wheel spinning in place. He won’t get anywhere, but he can look great by spinning it faster. I can’t know if I’m one of the Elect, so maybe if I can keep the wheel spinning — i.e., work hard at character — I can look like I might be Elect, and thereby ease my anxiety and terror, even though I can’t build true character, so I shouldn’t try, but if I don’t, I won’t have anything to go on except my work ethic and my hopes that I believe right enough and enough enough, which has me thinking about that great Calvinist hit song “The Last In Line” by Ronnie James Dio, which seems to be referring to Judgment Day with the lines, “We’ll know for the first time / If we’re evil or divine / We’re the last in line.” Anyway, I’ll come back to great heavy metal songs that illustrate Calvinism, like “God Hates Us All” by Slayer, at a later date.)

A Parable

Once upon a time, the church leaders jiggled the handle twice and the toilet quit running for a few minutes. When it started running again, the leaders jiggled the handle twice, and it worked again. But when the toilet starting running after that, two jiggles wasn’t stopping the toilet from running. They waited a while and tried one jiggle. No luck. Eventually four jiggles worked — but only for a short time. So the leaders sent the pastor off to a conference on ever-more-precise handling jiggling.

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Flashback: Legg Mason exec spoke to Coastal Carolina students about ethics

Flashback: Legg Mason exec spoke to Coastal Carolina students about ethics

A 2004 newspaper article I wrote. No one would have imagined I would be teaching on campus — or that financial firms were headed for upheaval.

Uh-oh, looks like I’m going to agree with John Piper

Warren Throckmorton has posted a series of tweets by John Piper, who says ghost writing arrangements are lies.

In one tweet, Piper writes, “If lying is the ‘industry standard’ reject it. Come on, famous guys, if someone writes for you, put the plebe’s name on it.”

Knowledge-worker productivity

Paul Reiser of "Mad About You" at 20...Paul Reiser once said historians will one day record that our cities were built as construction workers stood around and whistled at women — and the buildings just appeared.

Now I realize how “knowledge workers” get their tasks done. They sit in meetings, and books are written, reports are filed, youth are educated, projects are planned — just like that, as if the pressure between the posterior and the chair yields paper print-outs and computer codes.

The secret to a ‘brand movement’ — intersection of market, product, and belief

A poor drawing of the concept!


Having been an entrepreneur and a business editor at a daily newspaper, I’ve noticed that brand movements combine three things — and sometimes, this brand movement happens without any strategy on the part of the company.

You know what I mean by a brand movement — an infectious, must-have product or service with a following of “raving fans” and devoted disciples.

For example, people don’t just like Apple‘s iPod and iPad — they take an extra minute to place the Apple stickers on their cars. The same thing happens with Roxy — good products and loyal fans who will advertise for the company.

And all those Apple and Roxy stickers fan the flames of the brand movement. It just spreads.

For a brand movement to occur, three elements must overlap in a complementary way.

Those three elements are:

Product — This is actually the weakest of the three, at least in my opinion. A product could be a high-quality item, a unique item, a novel item, or just a piece of plastic that allows a consumer to identify with others who have the same piece of plastic. The product could be original or derivative.

Market — A group of people or a demographic already inclined toward the product. The sales target. It could be as broad as middle-class America (think Apple) or it could be more narrow.

Belief — This might be the most important of the three. Whether it already exists or is manufactured by marketing geniuses, the belief must be strong and ubiquitous, and it must point people to the product. As others have said before, a successful product either conveys status or relieves a pain or a need. But the belief in either the status or the relieving properties of the product must be so strong that a member of the target market joins the brand movement without question.

When these three things overlap in the right way, a brand movement is inevitable.

However, for the product to inspire a belief, know your target market. Your target market must be the kind of market that (a) could legitimately buy the product, and (b) could have a belief that the product could remedy a need, whether that need is status or relief.
Creative Commons License
This work by Colin Foote Burch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

The never-ending tension between freedom and order

This week’s Strange Days column provides unique, recent examples of eroding freedoms and the control freaks that cause the erosion. Read Stone Free!

Dear Ruby Tuesday restaurant chain

Dear Ruby Tuesday,

Having viewed a recent television advertisement for your restaurant chain, I have a question:

What is a “chef-inspired entree”?

Would you happened to have any “chef-made entrees”?

I confess I often make “non-chef-inspired entrees” for my children — you know, pre-prepared foods that just require a little time in the oven or the microwave.