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Differentiation: Your Church Must Be Different… in More Ways than You Think

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Two of the biggest reasons new churches fail:

  1. Not being different enough…
  2. And not clearly communicating that difference to your city.

When people ask you, as a progressive church planter, what your new church is all about, it’s not enough to say:

“Our church welcomes the LGBTQ community.”

I applaud you for making that choice like I have. You give the world hope, and I wish every church would make that same decision. That is not enough of a foundation, however, to guarantee the survival of the new church you’re planting.  There are actually plenty of progressive churches in your town that are mostly invisible and irrelevant to your city and on the verge of closing. Even if your church is the only one in town that is progressive or welcoming to the LGBTQ community, if your city doesn’t know it, they can’t connect with your new church.

It’s also not enough to say:

“Our church is different from Religious Right, closed-minded churches.”

Ultimately, people will not stay in your church based on what you’re against; they will stay based on what you’re for.

First, to help you determine what your church is for, here are 3 questions from an incredibly effective planter and pastor named Adam Hamilton that sum it up nicely. If you’re going to start a new church, you have to be able to answer these 3 questions.

  • Why do people need Jesus?
  • Why do people need the Church (worldwide)?
  • Why do people need this church (the church you’re starting)?

Second, here are some questions to help you begin to differentiate:

  • What makes your church different from the other churches that dominant the landscape?
  • How does your church positively communicate those differences to your city?
  • In what creative ways can you help people you’re trying to reach immediately see your church as different (this is branding and marketing, and they are extremely important)?

If you want to talk more about how to differentiate the church you’re starting, contact me at ryan.gear@onechurch.com.

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