I’m about to celebrate 4 years of serving at Gateway Church and let me tell you, I’m so thankful. It’s been a wonderful journey so far and I’m looking forward to many more years ahead of me. One of the things I love the most is how strategic Gateway is about reaching a specific demographic. Jim Wideman had done some consulting for Gateway years ago and while interviewing, he told me that Gateway was one of the very few churches he’d worked with that very closely reflected the culture they were trying to reach.
One of the ways that Gateway does this is training leadership in the “Voice of Gateway.” Just a few weeks ago we sat through a 30 minute refresher in an all-staff meeting. Because we’re attempting to create environments where people who are far from God can come and explore faith, it’s important that we’re all on the same page in the way we communicate. We synchronize our terminology and the way we communicate so that there isn’t confusion to those who attend. Here are some examples:
- Christ-follower: Believer or Christian
- Build into or Invest in: Disciple (verb)
- Came to faith: Saved or born again
- Talk about our faith journey or spiritual life: Evangelism or witness
- Serving trip: Mission trip
- Brokeness: Sin
- Just checking out faith or far from God: Seeker or non-believer
- Truth: Gospel
We even follow a set of values in our communication. Here are a few examples.
- Non-Self-Promotional: We don’t make ourselves or Gateway the hero of the story, only God
- Showing, not telling: We tell stories and give examples rather than tell people what to think
- Hype-Free: We don’t beat around the bush, especially if the subject isn’t pleasant.
- Educated: There are more Master degrees in the audience than many other places, so we must get our facts, references and such right.
- Socratic: Ask questions, even in your writing. Draw in the audience by the questions we ask.
- Funny to be serious: Be playful with the audience. Build credibility. Dont’ say something funny just for the sake of being funny, but so that you can say something serious.
I’ve never seen anything like this at any other church. I have known churches to have a design and style guide, but nothing around the organization’s voice. I thought I’d share in case there are some that would find this really helpful.
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I want a conversation about this.
I love the idea… but where does something like this begin? A brainstorm session by your senior leadership? Someone pointing out – hey, the senior pastor says these things a lot… let’s write them down? Who put this list together?
If a church were to read this and nod their heads in agreement, where would you suggest that they start building something like this?
I think that it begins with your ministry stake holders… probably senior leadership. It could be one person who compiles a list like this and then submits to leadership to say… are these the things we want to be intentional about? Truth is, if it’s something that senior leadership says often, you want everyone down the org chart saying it too, and it helps if it’s written out. My thoughts.