I went to church on a recent Sunday and discovered that on Easter we were going to be a different church than we are on every other Sunday of the year. A church that normally has two different services (in reality they’re not that different from one another) at 9:30 and 11:00 is going to have identical services at 9:00 and 11:00. I’m sure their reasoning was along the lines of it being Easter and wanting to do something special, accommodate the crowds, etc. I understand that, but for me that’s only part of the problem. 

Easter is one of those days when a lot of people are going to make their twice yearly trek to church, so the church leaders, being the marketing geniuses they are tend to think they should do something special on that day. After all, if the show’s good enough maybe these twice-yearly attenders (Chreasters) will become regulars. Here’s the problem with that line of thinking.

When you decide to pull out all the stops and put on a big show, your Easter guests aren’t getting a true representation of who you are. They might be getting what you wish you were, or what you want them to think you are, or even you on steroids, but it’s not a true picture. For those who still don’t see the problem, what happens if they come back the next week?

For starters, some of them will show up at 9:00 for the 9:30 service since that’s the time they came on Easter. Those who come on time may not feel the same buzz in the air when they enter the building as they did the week before.  Once the service starts there’s a good chance they’ll feel it; the Easter switch. The church they attended on Easter and the church they’re in now are two different churches. Sure it’s the same building, some of the same people but it’s a totally different service. They’ve been duped!

Just because it’s Easter and you may attract a bigger crowd please don’t be different than any other Sunday. Sure you should celebrate the risen Christ. Go ahead and make it a Sunday to remember. But why is that different from the other Sundays of the year? Be true to who you are. This isn’t a contest, it’s Easter!

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I help lead a marketing company that specializes in brand-experience. We not only help develop, define and promote our clients’ brands but we develop strategies to ensure that whenever someone experiences those brands that their experience supports and reinforces the brand. Frequently I think and write about the potential downside of church marketing as in my recent post, The Commoditization of God. Regardless of where you fall on that subject there are certain realities to consider, and one of those is that every church is a brand. 

By brand I’m not talking about your church building, name or even your logo, but rather what is behind those things. What are your priorities, what do you stand for, how do you impact others and contribute to their lives, what is your mission? All of those things and more contribute to your brand. Your brand is the very essence of who you are. Brand is a powerful thing and as a marketer I would say most churches don’t consider how critical of a role it plays. And of course where there’s a brand there is brand-experience.

When I was a pastor I considered myself not only a brand champion but a brand-experience expert — which has translated well into my current role. A large part of my pastoral role was making sure brand and experience were in alignment. While that involved much more than the public gatherings that seems to be a good place to focus. Consider this: when people experience your brand do the two things align? If your brand includes community involvement, how much do people experience that? If it boasts of relevancy how is that experienced? If your brand speaks to the poor and disenfranchised how is that played out when people gather each week?

Just some thoughts that sort of streamed through my mind this week. So, what’s streaming through your mind right now? Is the brand-experience at the church you attend in proper alignment? Let me know your thoughts!