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February 2009

Posts from January 2009

Branding - Coke, Pepsi and Church

American marketing is hugely about branding.  We all know what branding is, whether we realize it or not.  When you see golden arches - we know it's McDonald's.  When you see a swoosh, it's obviously a Nike ad.  People become comfortable with brands.  When a corporation changes it's logo, or brand, it affect people.  No joke.  You wouldn't think it to be that big a deal, but apparently, it is. 

Late last year, Pepsi announced it was rebranding it's products.  This has resulted in a new Pepsi logo, with "smiles" in the logo, as Pepsico explains.  Their major drink products are all be redesigned.  Mountain Dew is now known as Mtn Dew.  Sierra Mist has a new logo.  Even Tropicana Orange Juice and Gatorade are being repackaged.

Millions of dollars are spent annually to entice consumers to purchase product A over product B.  Most of us remember the "Cola Wars" of the 1980s that had Pepsi doing taste challenges in shopping malls and Coke reacting by shelving their old formula for a new "Pepsi-like" flavor.  The "New Coke" was a flop and when Coca-Cola reintroduced their "Original Formula" sales went up again.

The new Pepsi launch is getting much negative publicity.  Website blogs about branding and new logos and their effectiveness.

Here are the new Pepsi logos. . .



Here's a video promoting their new logos.  This clip was distributed on DVD to large clients:

Find more videos like this on AdGabber

Then, you can scroll through the site and find Coca-Cola's new bottle and logo.  Here it is. . .

The old one is on the left, the new one on the right.  What a radical change, right?  Apparently, Coke and Pepsi are taking different paths on branding in the new century.  Of course, just give it time.  If one does better than the other in the short term, the other company will react (notice I didn't say respond) by changing things as well.

What does this have to do with church?  Well, branding of churches and ministries are also huge.  In talking with web design teams for churches and ministries, it is clear they do not see their competition as other churches and ministries, but corporations such as Starbucks, Pepsi, Toyota, etc. that market well.

Even our church has a brand.  It began as an image of the round windows on our Worship Center.  When we opened our Worship Center on Kingsley in 1995, the new church brand was introduced.  The letter "O" in the word Orange Park, was a respresentation of the window.  Over time, the logo, or brand shifted to a format that looked as if it was painted quickly, then to the one that looked a little like tie-dye.  Following September 11, the color scheme changed to red and blue.  Upon opening our new campus at Swimming Pen Creek, the color scheme was adjusted to the current rusty brown and blue colors with the new font and the emphasis on "Orange Park" as we strive to become the church for the entire community.

The thing about branding is it can give people a feeling of comfort.  Regardless where you buy a Coke, throughout the world, the red can and white "dynamic ribbon" as it's called, is there.  It can bring comfort to an international traveller missing home.

The church logo can also bring about a continuity and express the strong belief we have in our God, the importance of the cross and our call to the entire community or world by God to reach people.

Still, as with Coke or Pepsi, once you buy the product or have the can or bottle in hand, the real test is the taste of the product within.  Same with church.  The facade can look great, but what's on the inside?  Are we a church that says we believe the Great Commission and Great Commandment or one that lives it out?  As I stated last Sunday evening, we have to be a church that shows grace, not just preaches it.

I'm excited about the series coming up in February, titled "No Perfect People Allowed."  It will be a look at the life of Paul and how we can relate to this imperfect man who was used by our perfect God to bring Him (God) glory.  We're all imperfect.  We know this.  Yet, God can still use us.  Just make sure we carry "God's brand" on our heart.

The Double Alley-Oop

The alley-oop is always a crowd pleaser in basketball.  This high school pulled off the "double-oop" to perfection.  Be watching for college and NBA teams to add this to their playbook.

Inauguration Day

Well, it's finally here - January 20th - Inauguration Day.  This inauguration has probably received more publicity, both positive and negative, than any in recent history.  In a nation so divided on political ideology, there are some who will have a very difficult time watching the proceedings today, while others will rejoice. 

Obama_165 It seems like record crowds of up to 2 million will be in Washington DC today for the event, with millions more tuning in to watch online or on television.

Regardless how you voted last fall, Barack Obama will become our 44th President today.  With the responsibility of the office and high profile globally he deserves our prayers.  He will be under the microscope moreso now than even during the election process.

A number of years ago an organization developed called "The Presidential Prayer Team."  A group of believers felt the need to organize concerted prayer for our nation's leaders.  Following the crisis of September 11, 2001, this group developed and is still serving the Lord by praying for those in authority over us nationally.

Here's an excerpt from their website ( regarding this week's prayer focus:

Pray for President Elect Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, Vice President Elect Joe Biden and Jill Biden, as they now step up to serve our nation, taking leadership at a crucial moment in our national life. As the two men take the oath of office, pray that the Spirit of God will be there, reminding them of His indwelling power and grace for every situation.    

Pray for the National Prayer Service that will be held on Wednesday, January 21 in the National Cathedral, asking that God will be honored and glorified and that Americans will commit to pray faithfully for President Elect Obama and his administration.

Pray for confirmation hearings taking place on Capitol Hill, asking God to guide each subcommittee charged with this great responsibility into His wisdom and insight. Pray for each cabinet appointee as they make rounds of members of Congress seeking to build strong relationships that will serve our nation. 

Pray for members of our military, serving faithfully in difficult situations and conditions, asking God to protect and safeguard every one. Pray for the 5,000+ troops who will work to keep our nation’s capital safe throughout next week’s Inauguration festivities, giving thanks for their great sacrifice and dedication.

As you may know, President Elect Obama has caused some controversy in his selection of Pastor Rick Warren from Saddleback Church in California to voice his inauguration prayer.  He then went to the other end of the spectrum by having Bishop Gene Robinson voice the prayer at the pre-inauguration event held at the Lincoln Memorial this past weekend.

In an e-mail I received from Rick Warren, he speaks of this opportunity he's been given.  I respect Warren and his vision for reaching people with the message of Christ.  His conservative views are what makes his selection to pray "controversial."  His e-mail was to pastors as an encouragement to keep shepherding each flock and love the Church during these days.  His heart for pastors is evident.  Here's what Warren says:

Praying for other co-laborers in ministry is far more important than many of the things I do, because your ministry of pastoring - the calling to care for a local Body of Christ - is the greatest responsibility one can be given on earth. If you understand what life, the Cross, the Church, and the future are all about, you know that nothing else compares in significance. Period. 

Today, our culture idolizes entertainment, sports, business success, political power, and prosperity. While these have their place, Jesus did not die for any of these things. He died for the people that you care for, feed, and lead.

Nothing matters more than the Church. We forget that the reason God created the entire universe is because he wanted a family, and that family is the only thing that will last forever with Him. Everything else on this planet is temporary, no matter how much attention it gets.

The upcoming U.S. presidential inauguration on Tuesday has received so much attention, and regardless of how each of us voted, we all can celebrate the historic installation of our first African-American President.  To live in a free nation of unlimited possibility where the son of an African immigrant can rise to the highest level of leadership is a privilege we must never take for granted.

But, in God's eyes, and in the perspective of his eternal purposes, what you are doing will actually last longer than what any political leader will do. Your ministry will impact eternity. Think about that!  While no nation lasts forever, God's family will. Remember, prominence and significance are not synonymous.

Why am I writing?  To urge you to keep on, no matter what you're facing right now.  30 years ago this week, as a 25 year old, I started Saddleback with a public commitment to stay 40 years. It's never been without it's challenges, but God-willing, I'll fulfill my commitment to pastor this local congregation that I love so much.

Please pray that I'll bring glory to God and represent all pastors well on Tuesday.

3 - Spectrum - Blue

Depression is something that seems to have a stigma attached to it, especially in Christian circles.  There are numerous things that can send a person into depression.  While all of us have times of sadness and feeling blue, a depression feels like an overwhelming cloud that covers you, that you just don't feel you get through.  This message touches on a somewhat difficult subject.  Hopefully, it brings some clarity for those struggling with this issue.

Download 3 - Spectrum - Blue

What To Do With Sunday Nights?

When I was growing up, we were at the church every time the doors were open.  I remember that Sunday mornings were for Sunday School and Worship.  Everything began at BST (Baptist Standard Time - 9:45 for Sunday School and 11am for worship.)  Then, on Sunday evenings, we were back at church at 5pm for Discipleship Training, RAs, GAs, choir or some other activity, then another worship service.

Of course, as you know, times have changed.  Sunday nights have become a "what do you do with that night" on the calendar for most churches.  Some still have worship and are running the same schedule as they did in the 1960s.  You know "If is was good enough for us back then, it's good enough for us now."  I say "More power to you," but I don't think the Sunday night schedule "soapbox" is somewhere I want to stand.

Even 10 to 15 years ago, we struggled with Sunday night attendance.  There was that pressure to have a crowd every time we met, even if the crowd was the same group that had just been there a few hours earlier in the day.

When I get together with other pastors, this has become one of the most asked questions.  "What are you doing on Sunday nights?"  In a group of ten pastors, there are usually one or two who are adamant about having their Sunday evening services.  The vast majority have found that attendance has dropped considerably in recent years, there is a struggle among planners on what to do, what needs to be done and of course how to schedule it.

Every now and then someone will come to me and say "A lot of people are upset because they want a Sunday evening service."  I've discovered that "a lot of people" could be five or six.  Sometimes it's more, but that term is pretty unclear.  To be honest, there must not be "a lot of people" wanting this in that when we met regularly on Sunday evenings, the crowd was anything but "a lot."  Someone even said once "We need to vote on whether to meet or not."  I responded, "I think the people already voted by not showing up."

So, we end up with a quandary.  What to do?

For those who receive my weekly emails, you know that I feel God leading us to a very simple Sunday evening schedule for this year.  There are Sundays where we have special events (i.e. concerts, fellowship meetings, etc.) For those Sundays where there are no special events, we are going to have another type of special event.  We will gather at 6pm and stay until 8pm in the Worship Center.  Beginning at 6pm, we will have someone designated to read the Bible aloud.  There will be no commentary, music, program, etc.  Just the Bible.  We'll begin in Genesis 1:1 and continue through the entire Bible until we, as a church complete the reading.  It may take a year or longer.  Can you imagine the power in this?  To read the entire Bible aloud as a church family.  Wow!

I encourage everyone to attend.  At 6:45pm, we'll take a 15 minute break for prayer and continue at 7pm.  Even if you cannot stay the entire two hours, come for just part of the time.  Be sure to check the Sunday worship bulletin for the schedule. We'll kick this off the last Sunday evening in January.

Sunday nights just may be a time where revival is sparked.

Penn & a Bible

The illusionist Penn (of Penn & Teller) is very entertaining.  He is a great illusionist as well.  Even guest starred on Numb3rs a few weeks ago.  He is an atheist.  He's very vocal about that.  Yet, he was given a Bible by a man at one of his shows.  He says that he's still an atheist, but I know that God can get through to him.  Regardless, Penn shares some pretty strong statements about the value of sharing your faith.  Really.  Watch this: