It's easy to confuse a church planter with an entrepreneur.
But if it waddles and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck.
The only thing harder than planting a church is starting a hamburger joint. What do the arches and a church have in common? There's another one of each, just down the road.
Any competent entrepreneur has the instinct to know that a burger lover is not seeking a new place to scarf down a burger. The unmet-need niche for fast burgers is extremely thin for differentiation purposes.
But the essence of entrepreneurialism is to find a gap that every potential consumer is hungry to satisfy. The need must be deeply intense in order for demand to drive a global search for an answer.
It is the demand factor that most impacts the drawing power of a platform.
Community residents aren't picketing city hall to start another church. But a church planter, when inspired by the Holy Spirit, knows that a local community has a set of needs that are unmet.
Not all churches are planted with a clearly articulated differentiation. Many churches are formed by division or split. Some start in a home with a simple goal of Bible teaching and fellowship. But one thing seems certain—church doors close when needs are not met.
I haven't started or planted a church. But I did submit to the call of the Lord to pastor a church that developed from a Bible study. There was no intent to start a church. It certainly was not planted. I served for almost 10 years as a lead pastor in a bivocational calling.
I've since learned what it means to plant a church. I've met many church planters recently, and we introduce you to several in this magazine. What I believe today is that a called church planter has the drive of an entrepreneur with a burning message rooted in the gospel.
A pastorpreneur sees a need in the marketplace and knows that the answer to the need is the message of the gospel.
But the leaders of established churches that dot the landscape of franchise boulevards also believe that their gospel message has the answer people need.
What does a new church plant offer a community with an abundance of more mature church plants?
What does a new hamburger cafe have to offer?
The product may be the same, but the packaging, delivery, presentation, promotions and personality of the brand vary widely.
I remember my grandmother's homemade hamburgers as the best I've ever eaten or ever will eat. The church my "Lois" took me to was literally located on Main Street. I evaluated all other churches by what my grandmother taught me about the church. I don't know how she would feel about either my current hamburger choices or my preferences for a church.
As consumers, we evaluate choices in light of our frame of reference. We compare all new alternatives to our baseline. We stutter-step forward in life by the presentation of a "new normal."
A new message draws us into a fresh solution to an old problem.
Marketers for hamburger restaurants or a church must labor over the crafting of a compelling message. We are obliged to answer the question, "Why do we need another hamburger place?" "We have over a hundred churches in town, so why do we need another?"
A platform is the pastorpreneur's best friend. Many leaders make the mistake of placing their focus on the medium rather than the message. "Which social media is best for our ministry?" is not the right question.
The relevant platform question is, "What is our core message and who needs to hear it?"
It is difficult for any business or church to grow when we have a vague answer for our "Why?" The strongest why wins visitors.
What makes you different from all other ministries? How do you help people in your delivery of services? Do people want what you offer?
Most of us do not design our marketing for one visit. Restaurants depend upon repeat visits. Returning customers have been satisfied in some way. A ministry must provide a reason to return.
The reason to return will almost always be found in the core message. People come to us because they can't find answers anywhere else.
Your gift is unique for the audience God sends to you. Don't settle for copycat programming or delivery.
Scratch the itch in your market.
Dr. Steve Greene is the publisher and executive vice president of the media group at Charisma Media and executive producer of the Charisma Podcast Network. His book, Love Leads: The Spiritual Connection Between Your Relationships and Productivity, is now available.
Leaders, Dr. Greene wants to help you understand the spiritual connection between relationships and productivity. Read his new blog, Love Leads.
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