How Did I Miss This – Missional/Incarnational is all about the Branding

kinnon —  October 25, 2007 — 9 Comments

I firmly believe that as the missional and incarnational approaches become the prevailing models for the Church, we will need the power and clarity of good identity branding. If we ignore it, we leave a key component of growth off the table.

(Sarcasm alert) And good grief, we missional folk wouldn’t want to leave anything off the table, now would we. That wouldn’t be hospitable. (I must confess that I find the first sentence in the quote to be simply astounding. Read on.)

I kinda wish my friend Mark hadn’t sent this to me. I think he’s read me enough to know that it’s such a slow pitch, I’d be bound to take a swing at it. (There I go with baseball metaphors again.)


Much of my response is covered in my series, Marketing the Church, which I wrote 10 months ago. The above comic is from Part One. Links to the rest are in the right side bar.

Let me be blunt. If you’re really going to talk about missional and incarnational, you aren’t going to talk about branding and marketing, or, dare I say, church growth. This article is also worthy of Napoleon Dynamite’s favourite epithet. (That’s three times in 24 hours that I’ve referenced the same ND line.) And is another example of how missional is being applied as the new new. “Hey, if we say it’s missional, it must be missional.” Not.

Somehow this seems to fit with my Good Grief and Havel et al posts.

I also think you should read Dan Edelen’s post at Cerulean Sanctum on Willow Creek. It seems to me that it deals with much the same mindset.



A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

9 responses to How Did I Miss This – Missional/Incarnational is all about the Branding

  1. Oh. My. God.

    I believe the Greek word is scoopula.

    I had a post brewing, Bill, riffing on your Havel post, as we had talked… and I had scanned some more of those little note cards I kept doodling on… and it dove-tailed with this so perfectly. Maybe I’ll still post, but later…

    Right now I just feel sick.

  2. You know … sometimes you just can’t both/and. This would be one of them. You cannot both/and missional and consumerism … sorta like you cannot worship both God and mammon. Now where did I hear that before?

  3. I’m constantly amazed at how different my world is from this world you shine a light on. So, I’ve decided that there are three paradigms operating. Two are dysfunctional and the other is not yet emerging, but is creeping into view.
    The first is the mainstream world I inhabit where the governing paradigm is the church as MUSEUM. Pastors are curators, and members docents.
    The second paradigm is the church growth world where the governing paradigm is church as ENTREPRENEURIAL ENTERPRISE. Pastors are entrepreneurial marketers and members are customers.
    The third paradigm claims to be community, but I’m not sure community is actually possible in our culture at this point in time. So, the governing paradigm may be more, church as COFFEE SHOP. Pastors are baristas and members are visitors connected wirelessly to a wider world than the shop and receiving some modicum of nourishment through their coffee and pastries.
    As I have been driving the past two days, I’m wondering if the real problem is that we have traded life for religion. I like this quote from Bonhoeffer.
    “During the last year or so, I have come to appreciate the “worldliness” of Christianity as never before. The Christian is not a homo religiosus but a man, pure and simple, just as Jesus became man… It is only by living completely in this world that one learns to believe. One must abandon every attempt to make something of oneself, whether it be a saint, a converted sinner, a churchman, a righteous man, or an unrighteous one, a sick man or a healthy one… This is what I mean by worldliness — taking life in one’s stride, with all its duties and problems, its successes and failures, its experiences and helplessness… How can success make us arrogant or failure lead us astray, when we participate in the sufferings of God by living in this world?”
    In this sense, our quest to be religious becomes a block to community and to our commitment to follow Christ wherever he leads.

  4. Ed,

    Thank you for the Bonhoeffer quote. It’s been a few years since I read that and I appreciate it now more than ever.

  5. I don’t know what to say…

  6. My husband speechless, he must be really be upset. I have a brand “We don’t get it”. I wonder how many would flock to that church.

  7. This is why much of the institutional church will never get it and therefore never live it.

  8. …I wonder where “distinctives” fit in here? I struggle with church movements looking to identify (and, even more troublesome, perpetuate) their “distinctive voice” in the larger Church.

    I guess that is a type of branding, eh?

    …sigh…I thought we were to have one distinctive: our love for one another.

  9. Bill,

    Thanks for the link to Cerulean Sanctum and my post on Willow Creek. I pray it blesses your readers. Sorry for the late acknowledgment.


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