This year we launched a ministry rebrand at Gateway for NextGen. This has been a painfully slow process not because I’m so thoughtful and creative but because I absolutely hate coming up with new names for stuff. I never like anything and I don’t love just copying something else I heard. This has also taken a long time because I know that whatever we pick, we need to live with for a while. A lot of effort goes into getting people onboard with something new and my hope has been to launch with huge excitement. The last reason this has taken a while is because I’m in a bit of uncharted territory. We’ve integrated our kids and student ministry at Gateway on multiple levels. My title is NextGen Pastor and I lead a NextGen team. I’ve been wrestling over what part NextGen has to do with our rebranding process. I’ve asked dozens of people for input and looked at scores of ministries and we’ve come up with our plan that is 30% implemented.

When I got to Gateway, I inherited Kids Quest and Uprising. The Uprising was our student ministry that had about seven different logos and Kid’s Quest had multiple sub-brands. There were the divisions of “Babies,” “Juniors” and “Elementary.” About 5 years ago we added some portable spaces for our preschool and named that division “The Backyard.” In addition to that, every room in Early Childhood had it’s own name from “Amazon Avenue,” “Bubble Babies” to “Tumbleweed Trail.” Yes, that’s a lot of names to keep track.

Here’s what I noticed and didn’t love. Parents identified with Kid’s Quest, but were often confused by the rooms their kids were in. Because their kids sometimes moved to a new room every 6-8 months and sometimes were bumped a room when it was full, they never really identified with the environment. What they did identify with was “Kids Quest.” We didn’t really have cool branding around elementary, so kids of this age just had “Kids Quest,” something they had been in their entire life.

So, here’s what we’ve done and what we’re working on. First of all, I’ve not uttered the words Uprising or Kid’s Quest in almost two years. I just say Kid’s and Students. “Kids Quest” is written on our building, but you won’t find it written anywhere else. Currently, we just say “Kid’s” and “Students.” However, we did a big launch this fall with our “NextGen” brand. Every volunteer who works with kids and students wears a NextGen shirt. Just about everything printed in this area has our new NextGen logo  and anytime I’m on stage or taking to parents or other adults, you’ll hear me say “NextGen.” Here’s our new NextGen brand:

Horizontal Version

Here’s why we branded NextGen first.

I want parents to identify with a bigger strategy than a children’s ministry. I want volunteers to understand that there a part of something bigger than just what they do every week. There is a team at our church that is thinking of the entire family. They’re thinking about every age-level experience and how they drive to the same desired outcomes. We want every parent to know that there is one consistent place to go to for help and one consistent place to seek resourced. We want volunteers to understand that what they do is done at every age-level and we’ve created a culture that they can do what they do with the same group of kids as they grow up because some things will always be consistent.

What’s fun is that NextGen is catching on. I hear parents and volunteers say it every Sunday. They’ve identified with the strategy and it makes sense to them. Lastly, I feel that the rebranding has helped unify our team in a pretty significant way. Our kids and student staff don’t see themselves as kids or student staff. They seem themselves as NextGen. They share resources and volunteers all the time because we’re all working the same strategy for the same outcome.

Like I said though, we’re only about 30% done rebranding. This year we launched a totally new brand with NextGen and we’ve kinda been ignoring individual age areas. We’re well aware that kids and students will never identify with “NextGen,” nor should they. This fall we’ll be launching age specific brands, but I’ll write about that tomorrow.