Churches, pastors, and ministries seek to be heard in the massive expanse of one of the most competitive cultural influences in history… the influence and power of global media. We daily compete to share the most important message of life in a culture that is bombarded with 24-hour, non-stop media clutter.
Marketers today constantly talk about the importance of branding and being relevant in the competitive arena of global media. The fast food company McDonald’s has done this well through the years. McDonald’s began by serving hamburgers and fries and not much else. You can still get a hamburger at McDonald’s today, but you can also get salads, wraps, and a cappuccino. It is a different world even for McDonald’s and they have continued to adapt their product to stay relevant and to attract customers.
As the church, we must continue to prayerfully communicate the message of Christ in a changing culture and to form mission strategies that are effective and relevant in this new day. The Apostle Paul understood the need for cultural awareness and adaptability. That is what he is teaching us in the 1 Corinthians 9 when he instructs us,
“I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).
The Apostle Paul understood the importance of sharing the Gospel in a way that communicates clearly in a sea of competing voices and that is culturally relevant to those whom you seek to reach. As a church, it is important to develop missional strategies that are culturally relevant and that communicate clearly.
McDonald’s has evolved from their beginnings in 1955 and continues to be relevant in a changing culture. As a company, they have been able to adapt and make changes that help them compete in this time of huge cultural shifts. They have remained relevant and continue to attract customers.
And yet, one thing has not changed, McDonald’s has never changed their iconic branding of the “golden arches“. They may have changed their menu, but the company leaders have recognized that the “golden arches” sets them apart and makes them recognizable in a flooded market of competitors.
I would encourage you to learn a second lesson from McDonald’s and the Apostle Paul. We must continue to adapt to stay relevant but certain iconic branding that sets us apart in a sea of clamoring competitors should remain. Though we must be willing to adapt in practice to effectively reach our world for Christ, we must hang on to that which “brands” us as the church of our Lord. As Paul shares clearly, “But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23-24). This message must never change and must always remain as that which clearly communicates who we are in a sea of clamoring noise and media clutter. Christ crucified and resurrected is our unchanging message.
It is the iconic branding that sets us apart.