I recently took a webinar entitled “Nonprofit Megatrends”. This informative lesson was taught by Suzanne Smith, MBA, from Social Impact Architects. In the midst of a wonderful blend of statistics & stories, Suzanne shared a truth that brought St. John’s to the forefront of my mind. This truth was that a brand is not a logo, but a feeling. She then asked the question, “How do you feel when you are walking into a Walmart?” Answers included “value”,“greeter”, “chaos”, and “cold”. Then Suzanne asked, “How do you feel when you are walking into a Target?” To this question answers included “fun”, “warm”, and “expensive”, and I said “Starbucks!”
The point Suzanne was making in the webinar and that I now get to share with all of you is that a brand is the feeling cultivated by an organization to advance their mission. Walmart intentionally cultivates the feeling of “value” so shoppers expect to get the best deal, while Target intentionally cultivates the feeling of “enjoyment” so shoppers look forward to going on their Target run, even if they don’t buy anything at all.
This past month I announced that our Welcome & Outreach Committee, along with our Digital Ministry Leader Coreen, our Church Secretary Jennifer, Pastor Peter, and myself have been working on a new logo and a new website. We hired a web designer, so the work of the committee and staff was not the building of the website, or the creation of the logo, but of discerning the needs and intent of a church website in the first place.
In the age of the internet, the first intentional encounter with any organization, including a church, is a website. Anyone who has volunteered with Cloud Covered Streets at our shower ministry and thought “they were gracious”, or brought their kids to Trunk or Treat and thought “they were hospitable”, or drove by on 51st and saw our sign and thought “I wonder what a Lutheran is anyway?” more than likely did not just show up at worship on Sunday without doing some research. Research to find out worship times. Research to read what St. John’s believes. Research to make sure they were really welcome, as our sign says in big red letters. This is where our website, logo, and social media help us share our mission of celebrating God’s love, proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ, and serving our neighbors.
It is because of this reality that all involved made the intentional decision to build a website first for those seeking a faith community and would then serve the whole community of St. John’s and design a logo that is centered on the cross that is the source of new life, even in the heat of the desert.
The Brown Cross signifies the tree of life, our Christian symbol of Christ’s death and resurrection. If this particular cross looks familiar, that is because it is the same cross that hangs in our chapel, the original cross hung in 1960 by a community with a vision to build a community of faith on the corner of West Myrtle & 51st Avenue. It is also the same cross that stands tall above our campus facing the West Valley as a symbol of God’s promise.
Green Leaves signifies a sprouting forth of new life in Christ even in the Sonoran Desert. The leaves are designed to match our vine leaves throughout our sanctuary. Jesus tells us he is the vine and we are the branches. This logo reminds us that our power as a community to bear fruit to share with the world comes from our faith in God, the vine. As the canopy, we through the cross offer respite in the shade.
The circle backdrop full of color is designed after the stained glass in our sanctuary and chapel. The colors, matching the sanctuary cross, tie together both spaces of worship in one complete and holy space.
Take a moment to take in the new logo. Compare the designs and stare at the colors. We are asking you to review our logo and website using the online survey found on www.stjchurchaz.org or email me at PastorDan@StJChurchAZ.org for assistance. Printed surveys are available in the church office and the narthex. Through Easter we will gather feedback to better utilize our web presence with an accessible website and better represent St. John’s with our new logo, and make changes as needed.
Yet, even with the most inviting website and the greatest logo ever seen, Suzanne Smith would agree that our “branding” is useless without understanding the feeling we want to cultivate when a first time worshiper, or neighbor or long time member steps through the big blue doors into the St. John’s Worship Center. This feeling….belonging.
A website and logo are just the beginning dear church. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus shares a story “‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Matthew 25:34-35). To truly welcome the stranger is to foster belonging, and in belonging the stranger becomes a friend who opens our eyes to Christ embodied in our community.
Like John the Baptist, a new logo and updated website are tools that point to God. Our community is just the same. May God stir up in our hearts a desire to know our neighbor, to welcome the stranger, and center all things, especially our “brand” of belonging, on Jesus.