I have a core conviction: the greatest truths ought to be communicated in the most unforgettable ways.™ And when it comes to communicating things in unforgettable ways, how is just as important as what.
Sermon branding is nothing new. Ancient prophets used God-inspired props to make their messages stick. Jesus took the Old Testament art form to a new level. No one was better at branding truth than The Truth. His parables are pure genius. Hear them once and you’ll remember them forever.
Sermon branding is hard work, but it isn’t optional if we’re serious about communicating like Christ.
Seven Steps to Sermon Branding™
1. Come up with a series title
There is a fine line between catchy and cheesy. The goal is to reduce an entire series to a single word, phrase, or symbol that captures the essence of the series. Book titles, magazine ads, TV shows, board games, and movies are a great source of creative inspiration.
Here are some recent NCC series titles:
- The Physics of Faith
- Y: Why We Do What We Do
- The Game of Life
- The Wild Goose Chase
- God @ the Billboards
- Wired for Worship
2. Create a series logo
According to neurological research, the brain can process print on a page at a rate of approximately 100 bits per second. But the brain can process a picture at approximately 1 billion bits per second. Mathematically speaking, a picture is literally worth 10 million words. This is why logos are so important.
The most powerful logo in the world isn’t the Coca-Cola bottle, Nike swoosh, or McDonald’s golden arches. It is the cross of Christ. Jesus redeemed the ancient symbol of death and turned it into the logo of eternal life.
Logos are important because of the way the brain processes information. The brain recognizes and remembers shapes first, colors second, and content third. If you want people to listen to the content of what you have to say, you better think about shapes and colors. If choosing color schemes seems to be void of spiritual significance read the book of Exodus. A dozen chapters are devoted to design. God gives very specific instructions about colors and scents. Aesthetics are important.
3. Design a series evite and invite
The key to buzz is word of mouth and word of mouse. One way to generate buzz about a sermon series is to send out an evite to your church e-mail list. Encourage your congregation to forward it to a friend.
You can get 5,000 invite cards for approximately $200 at psprint.com. Hand out the invite cards a week or two before you kick off the series. Invite cards are one way of turning attenders into buzzers.
4. Brainstorm Big Ideas
Three-point sermons need to be banned. People will only remember one point. The more you say the less they will remember. That’s why I try to reduce every message into one big idea. Why? Because people only remember one thing. It’s the Rule of One.
If you try to make too many points, your message turns into a bed-of-nails. Lie down on 1,000 nails and they won’t penetrate the skin. Why? The pressure of each point is diffused by all the others around it. Too many sermons are a bed-of-nails. But a single point will penetrate the heart and soul like a single nail.
During The Game of Life series we played off the board game by the same name and used seven spaces to symbolize seven big ideas:
Graduation Day: Enjoy the Journey
Tour Europe: Take Calculated Risks
Night School: Keep Asking Questions
Win Marathon: Set God-sized Goals
Start a Career: Pursue God-ordained Passions
Get Married: Fall in Love
Pay Day: Pay it Forward
5. Shoot a Series Trailer™
One way to brand a series and generate excitement is to add creative video elements. Show a Series Trailer™ the week before kicking off the series and put it up on your Web site. You may even want to design a series poster that looks like a movie poster complete with MPAA rating.
For trailer samples, visit www.theaterchurch.com.
6. Add Sermon Props
Jesus used everything from mustard seeds to Romans coins to make His messages stick. He preached from boats, washed feet, and used little children as sermon props.
Sermon props make messages more memorable because they involve more than one sense. The more multisensory your message is the more memorable it will be.
7. Add Sermon Staging
This will take some time and effort, but I’d recommend redesigning your stage for every sermon series. It’s a great way of keeping things fresh. A new look will generate new excitement. Have fun with it.
During our annual God @ the Box Office series we roll out the red carpet and treat every NCCer like an Oscar Nominee. It gives us an excuse to give them the red carpet treatment.
Mark Batterson serves as Lead Pastor of National Community Church (Theaterchurch.com) in Washington, DC. Mark is the author of In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day and a daily blog @ www.markbatterson.com.