Category Archives: marketing

Relationships instead of Church?

Read this article from Kathy Lynn  Grossman of USA TODAY, “Relationships Are the New Religion for Many,” and tell me what you think. This is good Jacob’s Well conversation.Easter PostCard jacob's well 2007

I think the article’s observations are right on, the conclusion isn’t.              [It really reminds me of some elements of our message  yesterday. (3.24.2013)]

My analysis says that “church” has failed to deliver value or relevance to people at their gatherings (worship services and more) for so many decades that we now have whole generations who have no idea that the church might actually have any. What people still have is the relationships that once found amazing, empowering, loving context in being church, and so they gather around those relationships instead. And for the most part “church/religion/the institution” continues to gather those who are left around nostalgia for what doesn’t connect.

How will we teach those looking for more that there is more when so few are trying to reclaim what church can be?

Hypocrisy

There is only one way to not be a hypocrite.

Quit claiming you aren’t one.

We are all hypocrites, it’s unavoidable. No one lives up to everything they believe in, practices everything they preach, or orders their life around all their values. Let’s be honest and quit pretending we’re perfect. Then when we aren’t spending all that time and energy in deception, denial and guilt we can actually start doing something about our dissatisfaction with being that way.

I am the pastor of a church FULL of hypocrites. We just try to be honest about it. I think it’s a great vision for a church.

“The Beginning is Near”

The indomitable Jacob’s Well “Get the Word Out” people keep coming up with more ideas about how to let their neighbors know they’ve got something they want to share. So to spread the news about Jacob’s Well expanding to the Longfellow neighborhood in south Minneapolis they started building these ‘snowfellows’ all over the place. Each holding the placard, “The Beginning is Near” and our web address.

I guess we aren’t a fire and brimstone church. We think that God is more promise and hope. And we think that is equally or even more so transforming than its gloom and doom cousin. We expect glimmers of the kingdom to appear all around us. In the joy and wonder of life, and in the pain and problems of life. We hold on to the crazy Jesus idea that nothing keeps God out.

So the end… who knows, I suppose it is always just around the corner. But the beginning… ahhhh… the beginning, it is upon us. Preach it snowfellows!

Maybe the name of this post should have been “Evangelism we can live with.”

Launching a ‘not very good church’ on purpose

Cover of mailer for Jacob's Well Longfellow preview

Is this anyway to attract people to our church? We think so. Obviously not if you were trying to get people who already think church is just fine. But why would we do that? They are probably going to church already. What about all those people (a majority today?) who think there is something basically wrong with ‘church’?

From the very beginning Jacob’s Well was designed to speak to people who have given up or are ready to give up on church, God and faith. It seems ridiculous to try to interest them by claiming what a good example of church we are. The copy on the back of our mailer says, “If your image of church is like most people’s, we’re glad not to be a very good example of it. So instead of being another church, we’ve tried to be a “what if” church. One known for being honest, thinking, relevant and casual so people can be themselves – you know, their real selves.”

We believe that life needs God at its center and Jesus in its heart, but we also believe that for that to happen people need churches that are authentic to who they are. People want their church to be in their own  neighborhood so it resonates with, pulls together and speaks to people with whom they already share community.  That’s why we’re in the process of starting Jacob’s Well Longfellow just 4 miles from Jacob’s Well Field in this densely populated urban neighborhood of south Minneapolis.

We had our first monthly  “preview” service on Sunday at Anne Sullivan School on Sunday (Jan. 24, 2010) and had a great time. The school and district have been great partners and the building is wonderful. Most of all, the team of people, many brand new to the Jacob’s Well community, have been incredible. A little over 100 people attended, nearly half of them new to Jacob’s Well. A great start. But it is just a start. We want to add value to the Longfellow neighborhood and be part of the struggles and joys of the community and individuals. We don’t just want to expand, we want to fulfill what God has in mind for us. And we need to let them know we are here. As I’ve said a thousand times, “It doesn’t do any good to start a church if no one knows about it.”

Starting another church is a lot of work. Being an authentic presence is a much bigger task, but that is what it is all about.

[Want to know more about why we would do this? Read “Most of us aren’t here yet.”]

So, how DOESN’T God speak to us?

This post is a response to ‘Laurie’s’ comment to my “How Do You Find a Church?”

I think we hear God when we get quiet enough. When we journal. When we talk to people who have wisdom beyond our own. When we have long soulful conversations until 2 a.m. with a glass of wine (usually red). When we get close to ‘the fire.’ Times when we break our routine and open a window – preferably, but not necessarily, to the right direction. I know I often hear God when I exercise intensely. That’s why I like running by myself and never take music, those things take over the experience and I seldom hear from God.

BUT, more than any so-called Spiritual experiences I am convinced, like you, Laurie, that God just hangs out and waits for chances to tap our shoulders and get our attention. More often than not we don’t need deep spiritual wisdom from God, just a good reminder of what God taught us long ago. Typically the label on the back of my credit card that says, “Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have.” (Hebrews 13.5) is all I need to hear from God when I want to buy something.

Is there any sense to the notion that it isn’t so much ‘how God speaks to us’ as ‘how DOESN’T God speak to us?’

After all, The heavens declare the glory of God, and the skies proclaim God’s handiwork. (Psalm 19.1) Sounds like it must be hard NOT to be hearing and seeing God’s presence all the time.

How do you find a church?

God told me…

We use billboards, bus benches, mailers, our website, guerilla marketing, pens, bottled water with our name on it, lots of invitations, anything we can think of to give people an excuse to try out God’s good news at Jacob’s Well… but who’d have thought of this?!?

This is a clip from a Communication Cards turned in on Sunday (2.3.2008). You know there’s a story behind this one. I can’t wait for all of Jacob’s Well to hear it.

Leap of Faith

Jacob’s Well started a second service on its 1st anniversary.  That was Sept.2007, and the service is at 6 on Sunday evening.  All our study pointed at this as the time to do it.  It’s great, but poorly attended.  We didn’t launch it right, we pushed it, but only in the context of what we are already did that has tons of momentum.  Now it is time to relaunch it.

Since we don’t have unused money, resources, time or people to do the launch, there was only one option.  Use who we have already to launch it.  This not only gives us a several hundred person launch team, it reminds us why we are here in the first place – to be about what God is up to. That keeps us on target and helps us keep out of reach of the grasp of institutionalism.

So we are suspending our popular 10:30 am service for the 4 weeks before Easter to be about one, and only one thing as a community for those weeks.  Getting a couple 100 new people to Jacob’s Well for whom the 6 pm service will be normative.

I don’t know of any church who has ever done this, but I think it is a noble experiment that has to at least teach us to never do it again.  We will accompany the switch with a heavy dose of advertising in the area and a major push on getting out into the community to meet people, as well as encouraging everyone to invite others during this month.

That’s the short intro to it all.  See the COUNTDOWN on our website (upper right).  It is ticking down the moments  until we start the second venue on Feb. 24 at 6 p.m.

Jesus is Unbelievable!

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Okay, so that title is a little flippant, but isn’t this whole deal? Staff writer, John Ewoldt, of the StarTribune (our local Minneapolis daily) brought this wonderful holiday gift idea to my attention in their 12/15 edition. The unbelievable notion comes from their assessment at the public’s interest in this 12-inch, $20 plastic Jesus doll that quotes Bible verses. I love the notion that these Jesus’ are “disappearing’ from shelves in Targets and Walmarts across the country. That sounds a little ‘Harry Potter-esque’ to me (do I hear an echo of ‘disapparating’?) but then what are we Americans great at except taking the best of various vaguely connected things and blending them together until we have a product with no integrity that we are all dying for? [pun intended] Even more fun is the observation that the consumer response to this version of Jesus is of ‘biblical proportions.’ Wow!

Will I be getting a Talking Jesus Doll? I won’t be buying one. (Although the truth is that I did buy a plastic action figure Jesus a few years ago. It’s on my desk. But it doesn’t talk…) Should one show up under the tree for me I’ll take it as a reminder that we followers of the one who inspired this toy need to be able to laugh at ourselves and not take ourselves too seriously. It will also be a reminder to look at my own “model” of Jesus. Have I made him in the image of something that I can handle and market, or am I allowing myself to be made me in God’s image?

I figure God has a much higher tolerance for blasphemy than many people think God has, and an even greater ability to use what we believe is unusable and to do great things with/through/despite it. Just take me for example – but that’s an entirely different story.

Merry Christmas. Jesus is coming! In more and different ways than we would ever expect.

A Sign from God! (?)

Leading up to Christmas at Jacob’s Well we are talking about being “Behind the Miracle,” a VH1 (or JW1) sort of thing. We figure that God wasn’t just trying to knock our socks off back then with amazing miracles, but was breaking into our world to always be with us, and that the greatest miracles are still with us everyday.

Anyway, yesterday we were talking about the signs. The shepherds had angels, the wisemen had a star… what about us? How does the whole ‘signs and wonders’ thing work? While there are many reasons to be skeptical of them, it’s hard to deny that they are life changing for a lot of people? Just go ask a few people if they have ever received a sign from God (or somewhere upstairs} that determined something very significant in their life. You’ll collect some pretty amazing stories and convictions about signs. If you want to know more about this you can hear my Message on the topic which will be posted before long on our website. whatifbillboard.jpg

Okay, so as I came to the office this morning I realized that I have a sign from God. I mean, literally. When we launched our “what if…” campaign in September we rented a billboard on 48th & Chicago for 4 weeks to create some buzz. The picture on this page was taken today – 17 December! It has been up there for 3 1/2 months! I guess no one else has rented the billboard so we’ve still got it! What’s more, it shouldn’t have lasted! The billboard company produces two copies assuming that after about 2 weeks or so they will have to replace the sign because weather takes it’s toll on the sign. Well, it’s been 3 1/2 months and ours is still looking good.

In the meantime it is a sign from God for a lot of people! Four first time visitors have been part of Jacob’s Well in the last two weeks alone because of that billboard – that’s just people who have let us know. What if… it’s a sign from God (not us) to our neighbors. Hmmmm…

So… the question… do I think God is making our billboard stay up?

Let’s just say this; It’s still up, God is using it, and we’re thankful. May we be so blessed next time we put one up.

Church Launcher Resources

I’ll start a section on our http://www.jacobs-well.net website with resources that other church developers may want to take a look at. But for now they are there with no navigation route to them, you just have to type in the address accurately.

Discontinuity Teasers (to help get your leadership thinking in terms that allow God to always shake things open. www.jacobs-well.net/discontinuityteasers

A copy of our Vision in a diagram. www.jacobs-well.net/visiondiagram

A description of the bullseye in our target, Jack & Jill. By knowing and understanding them well we can better and more meaningfully serve them. http://www.jacobs-well.net/jackandjill

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