What's in this session?

  • Don’t worry - we’re all just winging it (10:53)
  • Finding the intersection between form and function (15:22)
  • The 3 types of questions you need to ask to make a creative project successful (18:35)
  • Identifying your church’s target audience (and why pastor’s hate this question) (22:58)
  • Moving beyond empty mission statements (26:43)
  • 2 favorite questions to ask during the discovery process (30:55)
  • Developing a persona avatar for your church (33:45)

Show notes and resources

3 Instant Takeaways

    1. You are a pioneer. The world of church comm. and social is so new and we’re all discovering it together. If you are endeavouring to tackle this digital world – be encouraged! You are not alone. We are all working together.
    2. Define what makes your church unique. Go beyond broad terms like Christian or your denomination and instead focus on the details that set you apart. This will help you reach out to people who are searching for your unique brand of Christian community.
    3. Ask people what it’s like to be on the other side. You can only see from your own perspective, which leaves blindspots for your church when it comes to people with life experiences that are different than yours. Whether it’s people who are new visitors, a different age, sex, race etc. the best way to learn about the way your church is perceived by them is to ask the people who live in those perspectives.

Free Bonus: Click here to download The Church Growth Calculator Spreadsheet – a ready-to-go spreadsheet calculator for accurately tracking & measuring church growth

The Transcript

Brady Shearer: This is the Pro Church podcast, session number 182. The Ultimate Church Brand Discovery Process with Barbara Carneiro.

Well hey there Pro Church Nation, and welcome to the Pro Church podcast. You’re now part of a small group of pioneering churches doing everything we can to seize the 167 hours beyond our Sunday services. Why? Because we’re living through the biggest communication shift in the last 500 [00:00:30] years, and what got us here won’t get us there. I’m Brady, your host, this is session number 182, which means you can find the show notes for this session at prochurchtools.com/182. In this session, we’re joined by Barbara Carneiro, discussing a brand discovery process that you can implement at your church, so let’s do it.

[00:01:00] Well hey there pro church nation, welcome back to another session of the Pro Church podcast. This is Brady, your host. Thanks for joining us. We like to start off each and every session of the podcast by sharing with you a pro tip, or a practical tool that you can begin using in your church or ministry, or organization for that matter, right away.

I talked on a recent session of the Pro Church podcast, about my new rediscovery of camera sliders [00:01:30] and how I was excited to begin using them again. We’ve begun using them more here within the office and on our shoots most recently, but I did encounter one problem along the way, when I began rediscovering these camera sliders. That was that now that I’m shooting with primarily the Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro camera, which is not light exactly, you have to rig it up with a V-Mount Battery and a cinema lens, it’s pretty heavy. It’s a lot heavier than the cameras that I was shooting with the last time I was using [00:02:00] camera sliders. What I realized was that the tripods that we had in-house were just not going to cut it.

We needed a dedicated, heavy duty video tripod, and so I went onto Amazon, started looking st video tripods. Went onto B&H, and I discovered that video tripods are ridiculously expensive. Anywhere between one and $5000, you can easily spend just on a tripod, and so I started trying to come up with some creative options, and that’s when I discovered, based on the dozens and dozens, hundreds even, of amazing reviews, an affordable camera [00:02:30] tripod that was heavy duty, meant for video, and was able to carry the same or the appropriate weight load for what we needed, with the slider and the fluid head, and the Ursa Mini with the V-mount and the cinema lens on top of it. I found it, it was only going to cost me $150.

It came into the office last week, it’s the David & Sanford Provista 7518B tripod okay? I’ll say it again. David & Sanford, that’s the brand, and they have a [00:03:00] pretty expansive catalog of affordable video tripods. David & Sanford is the brand. The one that we picked up was the Provista 7518B tripod, and it comes with a V18 fluid head. That V18 fluid head is super important because it’s that fluid head that’s going to allow us to carry the weight, the payload of that camera slider, with another fluid head on top of it and then the Ursa Mini with it all rigged up on top of that. I think this fluid head can support up to 18 pounds, something like that, [00:03:30] and that was just about enough for us to rig out the slider with the Ursa Mini.

We went out and shot with it this week. It was successful. The guys, our cinematographers in-house, loved it, it was working, and so great news, but if you do encounter that problem, I just wanted to let you know that there is an affordable video tripod out there. David & Sanford brand comes recommended form us here at Pro Church Tools.

With that being said, it’s time for our interview of the week, and this one coming to you joined by Barbara Carneiro. Barbara, she’s the founder of Word Revolution, [00:04:00] and the brain behind 4:12 Lab, which is a training program for church communication. She’s also the founder of the Church Communications Strategies Facebook group, and in this session of the podcast, we talk about this church brand discovery process that Barbara walks her clients through.

We talk about finding the intersection between form and function, the three types of questions you need to ask to make a creative project successful, we talk about identifying your church’s target audience and why pastors hate this question, moving [00:04:30] beyond empty mission statements, two favorite questions to ask of Barbara’s during the discovery process, and finally, how to develop a personal avatar for your church. Plenty of great stuff in this session with Barbara Carneiro. Hold tight, we’ll be back in just a moment with my interview with Barbara.

Well hey there Pro Church Nation. Brady here. There’s an important day coming up very soon on the calendar, that we want you to circle, and that day is November the 14th. It’s [00:05:00] a Tuesday, and why is that day so important? Well it’s important because it’s on that day that we’re launching a brand new platform, the only one of its kind, a first of its kind really, called Story Tape. You can find it online right now at storytape.com, and you can join the launch list there.

What is Story Tape? Well essentially it’s a stock video site, but it’s unlike any stock video site that has ever existed in that instead of having to pay per individual clip, upwards of 200 to $500 per 10 second 4K clip, which is [00:05:30] what you’ll find on all of the popular stock video sites, and type of price that makes it prohibitive for pretty much every church and everyone within Pro Church Nation, well instead of following that model, we’re doing something different. For less than the price of one 4K clip on another site, you can get access to more than 5000 cinematic, 4K clips, shot in pro res. Unlimited stock footage downloads, finally, on one single subscription.

Let me say that again. One subscription, unlimited stock video downloads. Unlike [00:06:00] anything that’s ever existed. We’ve already got a catalog of more than 5000 cinematic clips, shot in 4K pro res, with both graded and ungraded versions, to give you maximum flexibility in post production, and going forward, we’re going to be adding more than 1000 new clips every single month. One really cool thing about Story Tape is that instead of shooting these standalone clips, these individual clips that are all on their own, we shoot our clips in what we call scenes, and so now you’ve got this group of clips within a single scene. [00:06:30] Now because there’s no stock video download limit, you can download as many clips as you want, from the same identical scene, and that allows you to piece together a narrative and the story, to create the perfect video that you’re going for.

Again, storytape.com. Unlimited stock video downloads, finally on one subscription. It’s launching November the 14th, that’s a Tuesday. What we want you to do is go get on the launch list. There’s more than 1000 churches that have already joined the launch list at storytape.com, and the landing page has only been [00:07:00] up for a week or two. We’ve barely even promoted it and more than 1000 churches have already joined because, well, I think this is going to be a pretty big deal for churches because it’s going to give us access to amazing videos at an unbelievably affordable cost.

Head over to storytape.com, get on the launch list, circle that date on the calendar, as we get ready for the launch of storytape.com, coming in November. Looking forward to it.

[00:07:30] Well hey there Pro Church Nation. Welcome back to another session of the Pro Church Podcast. Great to have you here with us. Today we are joined by Barbara Carneiro. Barbara, welcome to the show.

Barbara : Thank you. It’s nice to be here.

Brady Shearer: You and I got introduced to one another through Chris Abbot. Chris is a three time all-star on the Pro Church podcast, talking about Facebook ads, and we got connected through him, a mutual friend of ours. Now we have met and introduced to one another, can you introduce yourself to [00:08:00] Pro Church Nation, share a little bit about yourself, who you are, where you’re coming from and where you’re headed?

Barbara : Thank you Brady, yeah. I would agree with you that all-star is a good name for Chris. My name is Barbara. I am the owner of a agency, a visual agency Annapolis, Maryland, called Word Revolution. We are based in the US at the moment, although my husband and I, we used to travel a lot in Latin America, so it’s hard to pick a place for home, but [00:08:30] I would say the closest thing to home for me is Portugal, where I was raised, so where my family lives to this day.

Where we’re heading, that’s a great question. My goal is to help church communicators with the big struggles that I’ve faced the past. I’ve been there, I’ve been that accidental church communicator where somebody just sees oh, she know enough of computers. She will be good to click on the [inaudible 00:08:56] to change slides on a Sunday, [00:09:00] so I’ve been through that nightmare of having to learn hey, there’s actually a thing called church communication and you can actually learn how to do these things. That’s the direction we’re taking. I want to see myself as more of a partner, mentor, helper, than somebody that just comes in and executes stuff for you.

Brady Shearer: To that end, you started the Church Communications Strategies Facebook group, which I am a part of. How long has that group been around, and what’s the experience been so far with that?

Barbara : It’s been [00:09:30] about a year now. The experience, it’s a little bit of a rollercoaster, I’m not going to lie, because you’re managing people. They’re there because they want to be there, it’s not like you’re forcing anybody to be there, you’re not charging anybody to be there, and at the same time, you’re managing people that you don’t know. My goal has always been, oh my gosh, if we could just get to know each other, if we could just engage more than the simple, quick answer to a question. I want to know where people are and visit them [00:10:00] if I’m around, and so we started to do things like can you put yourself in the map? Let me see where your church is so if I’m driving to another city, I can actually come and visit. Just creating connections beyond the screen.

It’s a challenge. It’s an interesting challenge though. One that I have embraced, but at the same time, sometimes you wonder what in the world am I doing? How do you do this thing? Nobody had taught us how to manage [00:10:30] Facebook groups, and I’m going to say though, I think I’ve received so many encouraging notes, people just emailing me or messaging me directly saying, “Keep up the good work, and let me know if there’s anything I can do to help. Thank you for that prayer the other day. It was really what I needed.” You see these moments of okay, I should keep going. I should keep pushing through.

Brady Shearer: I was listening to a podcast yesterday, and it was from the founder of a software company basically. [00:11:00] The thesis of the podcast was that look, we’re all just winging it, and none of us have any idea what we’re actually doing. I think that goes for myself. It sounds like it goes for you as well.

Barbara : Yeah.

Brady Shearer: I imagine it goes for most of Pro Church Nation, within this realm of church communications. There’s a reason that we say, “Look, if you are endeavoring into this world of church com and social, you are a pioneer and you’re just winging it. The techniques and strategies that you’re using now, will probably in 10, 15 years, be considered ludicrous, [00:11:30] but we’re all paving the way in this new area, this new world that has not been around for very long.” 2017, Facebook became open to the public in 2007, a decade ago, so this is still very new.

When we got connected, considering that topic of just endeavoring into this world of I don’t really know, a lot of us can make decisions from that same position, and when Chris connected you with I, he talked about this discovery process that he spoke [00:12:00] very highly of and he said, “Look. You need, absolutely Brady,” three time all-star remember, this coming from the three time all-star, “You need to bring Barbara on the Pro Church Podcast because she is the ultimate,” in his words, “Discovery queen.” Can you talk a little bit about what he meant by that? Maybe we can dive into that process a bit, to perhaps provide some clarity to the decision making that we often make, which is just throw it against the wall and see what sticks. Maybe we can have a bit more clarity before we do that.

Barbara : Right. Well super-high expectations just on that one right? [00:12:30] The way that Chris introduced us [crosstalk 00:12:32].

Brady Shearer: That’s how we do it here. The best of the best.

Barbara : The first thing I do want to say is, you mentioned something that’s what keeps me going, is we’re pioneering in this area. Man, I want the church to be pioneering in this area, not the marketplace, not the world. I want us to be the ones teaching the other companies out there, organizations out there, how to do these things.

I had the privilege [00:13:00] of entering web agencies around the world. Most of them are in the US, but we’ve had agencies from India, from Australia, from England, that I’ve mentored through this same type of discovery process that I’m going to talk to you about today. You know what? When I talk to them, I show them my discovery questions for the church. When I show them examples, I show examples of websites for churches. When I talk about niching and having an audience, I talk to them about [00:13:30] my niche and my audience, and I want them to remember that. I want them to remember man, this is what Barbara is doing within the church.

Believe it or not, just to give you a quick side story here, I’ve had people in my business world come to me and say, “Now I believe in Christ.” That for me, is worth everything. We’ve had business events where we would get together, in fact Chris was there in the previous one, and [00:14:00] we were praying in the hall. I’m talking business conference, think digital [inaudible 00:14:05] conference type thing, and here we are, a group of a few believers, just praying before we go to these conferences. People could see us, and we’ve had people come to Christ in these business meetings. I saw it with my own eyes, and that’s what keeps me going.

I want the people to look at the church and say, “Hey, this is the guy I want to follow. These are the people that are reinventing [00:14:30] or creating new things, or pioneering what marketing is all about, what reaching people, engaging people is all about.” That being said, and it’s great to hear these stories over and over, and we’re going again in December and I remember thinking, and I said this to Chris, I said, “Chris, the harvest is ready, and we just need to go. We just need to go knowing that these people, we are the closest thing to the Gospel that they will ever see.” [00:15:00] Anyway, I want us to be that. I want us to be the big names, like who are the big players that are learning how to operate and mange Facebook groups, and learning how to operate storytelling.

Anyway, when it comes to discovery, what I have found is that I come from a web design background so that was the big thing we would do all the time, just craft websites day in and day out, and [00:15:30] I caught myself hearing clients come back two years later saying, “Hey. Website looks great, but I think we need a new one. We need to tweak a few things,” or, “It’s just not working for us.” That got me thinking, it’s great to have them come back and pay me again, but why is it that this thing is not working if I looks great? This realization that we were just putting nice little pixels next to each other and not really thinking about the audience, or not really strategizing and creating something [00:16:00] that has a purpose and an intention, at the end of the day that’s all you get, is a cool design or a nice little design that is not going to do anything for you.

Taking steps back and asking ourselves questions that will then give me insight, allows me to then, even when I’m designing, when I’m creating something, it educates my decisions. We’ve all been through those aimless revisions of, well I don’t like the color, I don’t like the shape, I don’t like [00:16:30] the photo, my wife doesn’t like it, my dog doesn’t like it. We’ve all been through those endless revisions and that’s because we’re dealing simply with an emotional approach to design. At the end of the day, a website should do more than that. It should engage, it should create, and one of the reasons why Nucleus is so successful is because the engagement that you have with the inside of the church is different than the one that you have with the outside of the church.

Knowing that, [00:17:00] and this is a dilemma all churches face, who do I talk to in my website? By addressing it from that perspective, take a few steps back, ask yourself some questions, and then from there, you start creating a strategy, a plan, an idea, a road map, but rarely do we want to take those steps back and create a plan, if that makes sense.

Brady Shearer: Well I think basically what you’re describing is navigating the intersection [00:17:30] between form and function.

Barbara : Yeah.

Brady Shearer: I come from the position of I want things to always look great, and then the practical person comes from the position of, “Yeah, but no one uses it.” Then we have to come together, the two of us, the two parties, and find a way to live in harmony and find that intersection, because I do think that it exists and I think that’s where this idea of asking the right questions and discovery process comes down to it. Can you walk us through what that might [00:18:00] look like? If someone is at the position of redesigning their website.

Barbara : Yeah.

Brady Shearer: I am always surprised at how often people are in this position. I think we’re always, so many of us in our churches are in a position of discontent towards our online presence, specifically our website, and so we say, “Oh yeah, we’re going to redesign that soon.”

Barbara : Right.

Brady Shearer: I think that’s a position a lot of us are in. Whether that soon is next week or next year, it’s on the calendar, it’s on the docket, we want to get it done. What are the right questions that we need to begin asking ourselves, to go through a successful [00:18:30] new website design, in this time?

Barbara : Yeah. I feel like the minute you put your website live, you feel like you need a redesign already. It lasts just a week. There’s always this feeling of there’s still a few things not quite there yet, and we see that even in the Facebook groups we’re a part of where, okay, every time somebody comes in asking for opinion, they always say something along the lines, “I know there’s still a lot of things that I need to add or remove or tweak. It’s not quite ready yet,” and that sense of [00:19:00] we’re just uncomfortable with what we output, comes from exactly this place of it’s just an emotional decision. Here’s what you’re going to get, people that hate it, people that love it.

I think many of us can relate to this endless process of it’s never ready, it’s never good enough, because there’s nothing you’re comparing it to so what’s the goal you’re trying to achieve? If you have a goal, then is it hitting the bullseye? Yes or no. Is it 80%? Yes or no. If there’s no bullseye, if there’s no target, then you [00:19:30] have nothing to compare with.

Questions that I normally ask, I actually separate them into three sections, intentionally so, and obviously I didn’t wake up one day and had the perfect questions for discovery. There was a lot of trial and error. In fact, I feel like the success that I see now in these questions, are because of the failures that I saw before. I caught myself thinking, oh man, I should have asked them something that would tell me this particular [00:20:00] thing that I’m trying to uncover. How can I ask that question? Where can I put it? Is this something that I should ask in the first meeting, the second, or the third?

We divide it in three meetings. Obviously these meetings are very brainstorm heavy, so the reason why we have them separated is because honestly, we can only handle so much brainstorming at once. We’re taking notes and we’re thinking, and there’s a process that goes into understanding information, asking the right questions, [00:20:30] sometimes getting deeper into some of the questions, and at the same time, you’re already anticipating what kind of strategy will come out of this particular conversation.

The first one is all about the church, and I’ll tell them, “You know what? Today is all about you. I want to know everything about your church, as if I’ve just joined. I’m a new staff member, and you’re teaching me about who you guys are.” The questions are describe me your church. How would [00:21:00] you describe it for somebody that knows nothing about you? What’s your story? When did you start? Some churches have amazing stories that they stop telling. Some churches think they don’t have a story because they’re too young, and that’s not true either. Sometimes church plans have been in the construction phase for a long time before they actually plant, so there’s a story behind them, behind that process, that I want to know.

I normally ask them things like, and [00:21:30] this one is one of my favorites, what word describe your church? I want them to think beyond the we’re all about Jesus, because I’m hoping that’s implicit. I’m hoping that’s there, but what else? What is it about your church that is unique? Because I often feel like pastors believe that we can only be within this little tiny box of we’re just a Christian church and this is what we do, and we don’t need to add anything [00:22:00] to it, which is true, we don’t need to all anything to the Gospel, but here’s what I see. If you are a church in a specific city, chances are there are other pastors that had been called to the same town. Why would God call five, six, seven people to the same town if you can do it all? If you were supposed to have it all?

We are to reach different people, we are to serve different people, we are to be the traditional different parts of the body. [00:22:30] Our doors, as churches, should be open to anybody and everybody. We shouldn’t limit who comes in, however our outreach, our ability to reach people, to actually engage with somebody intentionally, can only go in one or two, maybe three directions, depending on the size of your church. You can’t be everything for everybody. We’ve heard that before, but when it comes to churches, here’s what I normally ask, and please don’t laugh about this one because sometimes it causes pastors to get a little bit itchy. [00:23:00] I used to ask them, “What’s your target audience?” Let me tell you, they hate you for that, they really do. Nobody wants to have a target audience because that feels limiting, it feels like I’m just not reaching everybody and that’s not the purpose of the Gospel. It’s from here to the nations, and just [crosstalk 00:23:17].

Brady Shearer: Barbara, I have a target audience. It’s the lost okay? Just it’s the lost, so there’s that.

Barbara : Right. Then my next question is normally, “Well, then when is your [00:23:30] Spanish service?” Most of them don’t have one.

Brady Shearer: It’s a great comeback. Nice.

Barbara : Then I’ll tell them, “Okay, so we can scratch Latinos. Is that okay?” They freak out. They look at me like, “No, no, no. We’re not eliminating anybody.” It’s like, “I know, but if you don’t have a Spanish service, chances are you’re not going to get people that have difficulties with English.” Just think about it for a second, some churches will not have enough volunteers to have a great youth program, [00:24:00] or a great kids program, so if I have children and you’re not prepared to serve my family in this stage of life where I’m in, chances are there’s probably another place for me, or maybe I’m the one to come to your church and actually start it.

I just need to understand that, as a church, I can only serve so much, so when I ask them these questions, it brings perspective and I’m hoping it will bring clarity. I ask them, “What do you do well?” Instead of saying, “Okay. [00:24:30] What’s your target audience?” I found myself rephrasing some of these questions. “What do you do very well?” They say, “Well, our kids program is great. We really have an amazing program for children of these ages and those ages,” and like, “Okay. Well then you can serve families with young kids very well. What happen when they get older? Are you prepared to serve them once they become teenagers and young adults?” You know what I’m saying? That’s the type of stuff that we look at.

We also look at weaknesses. [00:25:00] What is it that you believe you need to improve on? Man, let me tell you, sometimes that list is really long. They can normally tell me everything they need to improve on. Putting those questions out allows pastors to realize okay, it is okay for me to serve, or intentionally outreach to those that I can serve better now.

Brady Shearer: I don’t even think it’s just okay. I would venture into the territory of saying it’s necessary, because [00:25:30] if you are trying to serve everybody, you will not serve anybody well.

Barbara : Yeah. Exactly.

Brady Shearer: One of the best things that I’ve ever done for running a business is saying, “Okay, I only want to serve churches. Okay, I only want to serve churches in the realm of communications.” That is the most narrow niche ever.

Barbara : That’s right.

Brady Shearer: There are only 100,000 possible customers in the world for us. That sounds like a lot, but that’s how many exist. We’re not going to get close to that. Whereas, if you are [00:26:00] in your city and saying, “I’m just here to serve everyone,” that is a noble statement, and it comes from a good position, a position of love and care and really big dreams, but it’s just not practical. It also doesn’t allow you as a pastor, to partner with others in your city, and be like, “Look, we’re in this together.”

Barbara : Exactly.

Brady Shearer: Because we are in this together, and the people that Barbara is going to empathize with and interact with and really connect with, likely [00:26:30] is different than me. That’s good because we need both of us, and we need everyone else to come together. This is why when you can really run in your lane, and everyone else runs in their lane, now we’ve got something really beautiful going on.

I did want to jump back to one thing that you mentioned because it really stood out to me, and what you said was like, “Look, I know pastor, that your mission statement is this, love God, love people and serve the world, but let’s move beyond that, beyond an empty mission statement that every other church has in identical form, to something more.” Can you [00:27:00] talk a little bit about that? Because I think that this is a huge thing for churches.

I’ve been doing this Pro Church podcast coaching addition every Thursday, and every Thursday we publish this new session of the podcast, where basically I’m coaching and consulting with the church in real time. There’s no prep fr it. Basically we just jump on a call and I’m like, “Okay. What do you need help with?” We just dive in for an hour and I’ll often got to the point where I’m like, “Okay. This is what you are having trouble with. What are you trying to accomplish?” Then a church will say their mission statement, and it’ll be at that point of the call where the church will be like they’ll try to remember it or [00:27:30] they’ll look on their website because they wrote it down, because it’s not really dynamic. It’s empty, it’s static, it’s corporate, it’s formal. Thus, there’s no narrative surrounding that, and it’s hard to grasp on to. What have you seen with church mission statements, the emptiness, and how to move beyond that?

Barbara : I know. I think it’s okay to have one. I feel like the mission statement and the vision statement are things that we have inherited from the previous way of doing business and existing as an organization. There’s nothing wrong with having them, but if they’re not shared, [00:28:00] if you can’t repeat it, then what’s the point of having it? That’s what I believe is lacking right now, when we just have one for the sake of having one.

We normally ask questions that I’m hoping will give me that … It’s funny because I totally stole this one from Chris. I used to have a elevator pitch type speech, where we’re like, “Okay. What’s your elevator pitch?” Chris is like, “Well, I prefer to have a coffee shop pitch, because now these people don’t have pitches and elevators [00:28:30] anymore,” so I stole that one from him, and from that day on we started using the coffee shop pitch.

What’s the coffee shop pitch is very simple. You’re sitting with somebody in a coffee shop. If they ask you, “What do you do?” You’re not going to repeat the statement that you have on your website, because most likely, you don’t even know how to say it. You don’t remember all the words or you have it backwards, or you just sound so robotic when you say it that it loses meaning. If you’re sitting with somebody in a coffee shop, the conversation is so different. [00:29:00] You’re probably going to say something like, “You know what? We just have the coolest kids ministry in town, and we’re just a church for the community. We’re just a church for the city,” or, “We’re just a very close knit, tight family as a church.” These are the kind of things that you hear people actually saying when they leave your church, when they attend your church.

If you’re collecting testimonials, if you’re asking them, “Hey, what’s life like after you start coming to this church?” They’re not going to repeat the statement that [00:29:30] they have on the website, the vision statement or mission. They’ve probably never seen that before. That’s my guess. However, they will say things like, “It feels like a family,” or, “I’ve finally found hope,” or, “This is a place where I feel safe.” These are the kind of things that you hear, and that’s the impression that people will carry.

I have some funny questions that I ask them to get to that point. On the first meeting that we have with a church, like I said, it’s all about the church. We just ask them questions [00:30:00] about them. I end with my two favorite questions. One of them is, if you had a bumper sticker, what would it say? I always get the, “Huh. Never thought about that.” They always have this moment of ah-ha, like, “What? Wait. I never thought about having a bumper sticker, so what would it say?” Most likely, it’s going to be something short, and in some ways, a little witty, because bumper stickers have to be fun in a way. It won’t be something that is hard to [00:30:30] memorize or say it, because again, it has to be short to fit in a bumper sticker.

When I ask them this question, I normally get to the core, the DNA of who they are as a church. That’s when the truth comes out most of the time, because until then, they’re telling me things like, “Well, we started in 1989, and we did this, and we did that. We’re changing pastors.” When we get to that question Brady, the funniest things come out, but at the same time, that’s when they really … [00:31:00] It’s like that raw version of themselves. Now when they tell me that, I may never put that on their website, but I get a real sense of who they are, what they stand for, what really matters to them, so that question is one that gets me really excited.

Then the last one is what if? I end the first meeting by asking them, “You know what? Let’s dream big together. What would your church look like if there were no limitations? Where would you see it? What [00:31:30] would you envision?” Suddenly they start talking about church planting and discipleship. They’re just dreaming in their minds. They’re going beyond what they’re doing now and their limitations, and they are thinking, what can we be? What can we become? Allowing them to dream, sometimes it’s all it takes to get the church to a place where they’re ready for change. If that makes sense.

Brady Shearer: It’s funny how just asking different questions can reveal [00:32:00] so many different things. Sometimes it just comes down to asking the right questions, which is why a discovery process exists. Right now, I’ve been visiting a counselor for the first time in my life, and it’s just been such an amazing experience. I’ve only had three sessions. You kind of have this maybe, stigma attached to a counselor, not even a bad stigma, where you go in and you’re going to start weeping, and they’re going to reveal all the secret things, and you’re, “I never knew that happened as a kid, but now I remember it.” None of that’s happened.

Obviously cinema and TV has ruined that for me, [00:32:30] but each of the sessions has been really just solid, meaning I’ve walked out of it with something that I hadn’t considered before, maybe a new tool to navigate my life in a better way, and all that’s happened is really just a change of perspective. It’s not like I’ve gone in there and there’s been this revelation of this thing I didn’t know existed, or this secret thing that’s underlying every problem I have in my life. No, none of that. It was just like, “Well what about this?” I’m like, “Huh. Never thought about it that way.” Just a simple change of perspective, which led to [00:33:00] a huge new way of living, if I was willing to take the step towards it.

Barbara : Yeah. Exactly. When we look at this idea of potentially changing something, it doesn’t have to be a radical change. Sometimes it’s just getting that excitement back of what was it that drove you to actually take that call and start the church, or take that call and start leading a church, or volunteering at a church? It’s like awakening that passion that, at some point in time, was so alive. [00:33:30] Getting yourself to a point where you can dream again, sometimes it’s all it takes to really see how can we portrait all of this passion to the outside, in a way that matters to them?

That takes me to the second meeting. The second meeting is all about the people on the other side of me. We used to call it the persona avatar, the persona profile, and all of these fancy marketing names, and in some point in time I had a pastor, it was actually one of the previous churches I [00:34:00] was a part of, one day he asked us, “Ask people around you what is it like to be on the other side of you?” Let me tell you, if you’re going to experiment with that, be careful because you may be surprised.

The hardest ones for me were actually my husband. The things that he was saying, like what does it feel like to be on the other side of me, there were things that I didn’t know. Not that they were bad, it was just like, “Oh my gosh, we’ve been married for this long and you’re just not telling me that?” He said, “Well you never asked me.” [00:34:30] Sometimes not asking these questions is what leads us to a place of not knowing, like you were saying. It was very amazing to hear how other people felt around me, or things that I would instill in them, that I didn’t know. Most of them were extremely positive and I had no clue.

When I think about the audience for the church, I want to see it from their perspective. What is it like to be on the other side of the church? Because we will never know. We are so [00:35:00] in the inside, we’re inside this bottle, trying to read our own label. It’s always going to be blurry, where people on the outside will always read it differently.

Number two, the meeting number two is always about the people on the other side of you, so who’s on the other side of your church? We start with groups. If you are in a town that is, for example, I’m in Annapolis, Maryland, and we have a lot of military families, that comes with a specific [00:35:30] lifestyle. They move a lot, they move frequently, they sometimes don’t want to get too attached to people and friends because they know three years down the road, they’re going to move again, so they tend to maybe not get into community that easily.

You need to understand who’s around you because then you can engage with them in a way that makes sense to them. Obviously not everybody’s the same and I don’t want to generalize everything, but at the same time, you need to understand who they are. If you’re in a big town, maybe that would [00:36:00] be different. If you’re in a small little town, then maybe people really do crave community, and that’s what you can use in your advantage.

Meeting two, we ask them questions about that one person. We create this persona avatar for them. This is normally the hardest one. I’ll be honest with you, it’s really hard for us to think in just one individual, but what I tell them is this, “Look, this individual that we’re crafting together, is not the only person you’re going to reach. This is the bullseye. This is [00:36:30] who you can serve very well today. With that person will come a family. With that person will come friends, so there are layers to a target, like when you see a target, you have the bullseye and you have some rings around. Your target is not just limiting to the bullseye. Right now, we just want to outline the bullseye, and then we will have people that will be a 80% match, 70% match, and they will still engage with or react to how you’re engaging with them.”

That puts them a little bit at ease, [00:37:00] so at this stage we create this personal avatar, we give it a name, a age and all that kind of stuff. Then discovery three, which is the third meeting, that’s probably my favorite. When I come to this meeting, by this time, we’ve already met twice, so I’m hoping they’re already thinking of their audience, they’re excited about their passion for their church. I don’t know, there’s some questions that may have lingered a little bit [00:37:30] longer and they’ve been thinking about them. When we get to discovery three, what I tell them is this, “Think about it as a boxing ring, and you have player number one here, the church, and you have player number two here and it’s the audience. How are they engaging? How are they talking? How are they not talking? What needs to exist to bridge them?” We ask them questions that have to do with the engagement.

Here’s one that you may be surprised, and I would encourage [00:38:00] everybody that is listening to this podcast to do it. What is the number one question your church gets asked all the time? If you were to pick that top question you get asked all the time, what is it? Do you keep getting questions like what can I do to help, or how can I get connected? What kind of events do you guys have going on in this church, or what are you all about? What is the question that you get asked all the time? That will give you a lot of insights [00:38:30] on how your audience is perceiving you.

If you’re not being asked questions, I would worry about it. That means you’re not engaging enough, your not paying attention, you’re probably not taking to people. If you’re not being asked anything, then maybe you need to create a few extra communication channels. Maybe you need to be more intentional on a Sunday morning. Does that make sense? I’ve got to know if I’m just going into a tangent here, but …

Brady Shearer: I think it does make sense. I think that the idea of the persona, it may be [00:39:00] new to some people. I remember it was one of the first things that I came across when I was launching Pro Church Tools. It was like who is the person that you’re trying to reach? I admittedly had a lot of trouble defining this persona.

Barbara : Why?

Brady Shearer: It was difficult because a lot of the times you want to have some really identifiable traits that are pretty specific, like this is their level of income, this is their faith, this is their background, this is the type of school they went to, this is their level of education, this is the thing that [00:39:30] they’re interested in. I was like, I don’t know. I just want to help people with video announcements. I don’t know if it can feel intimidating for churches as well. Do you have any recommendations, maybe mentioned this already, when it comes to finding the right data, so we’re not just guessing? Or is guessing sometimes an okay part of this?

Barbara : Yeah. I think it’s better to guesstimate, so obviously when we create this persona avatar, it’s a fake profile. It’s not a real person. But I don’t want to just create [00:40:00] something out of nowhere. We need to start by looking at who’s already coming to our church. If you’re serving families, let’s say for example, the military families I was mentioning before, then you know something about them. You can somehow understand them. It’s almost like how can you empathize with somebody if you know nothing about them? The same thing is true with communication. How can you communicate with somebody if you’re just talking from a me me me perspective, and not really talking about what matters to them?

The church has [00:40:30] this tendency to be all me me me, we we we and I I I, and we do this, we do that, instead of speaking to what the audience gets. When I think about creating the personal avatar, sometimes you will hear things like, “Okay, well where do they spend their money? what are their spending habits?” Depending on the town you’re in, you probably will know. You will have an idea where people are spending their money. Some may say, “Okay, well we’re in a big town and people really like dining out and going for [00:41:00] the movies.” If you’re in a smaller town, maybe they do different types of activities where maybe it’s sports. Some cities are very sports centric, so maybe that’s it. That’s where they spend their money, on sport related stuff.

I know for example, in Annapolis, a lot of people spend money on sailing and boating. Again, I don’t want them to feel like we’re generalizing, but I want them to just decide on something. Why? Because when I’m writing content for the website, [00:41:30] I want to see myself not screaming from a megaphone, to a blank audience that I can’t recognize, but I want to see them, I want the website to be something that is speaking to somebody in that coffee shop, like I mentioned to you before. How would you talk to somebody if you were sitting to them? How would you write that copy if you knew it was just one person sitting in a coffee shop? If it’s one person, who’s that person? Imagine that person in your mind, because it makes it so much easier.

We’ve all been there [00:42:00] when you see these charities talking about these numbers of how many people that are hungry in the world, or dying because of dirty water, and you just see the numbers and numbers mean nothing to you. Then you see John, and John has a face and he has a name, and suddenly you’re like, “Man, I need to do something for John.” Now my ability to connect and engage with this situation is completely different. My impact is just one person, this guy John, where before there [00:42:30] were millions or hundreds.

Anyway, it’s the same principal here. Every time I’m writing copy for, and by the way, I don’t write the copy myself, I’m terrible at it, but every time we’re writing copy for a website, we want to picture that type of connection. We want to picture the I’m talking to somebody in a coffee shop.

Let me give you one great example. We worked with a church in Tennessee just recently, and their tagline, which is what replaced in many ways, the vision statement, [00:43:00] is simply come and see. That’s it. Come and see. If I’m sitting with somebody in a coffee shop and they say, “Hey, what’s all this thing about your church?” It’s like, “You know what? Why don’t you come and see? I would love for you to join me.” That’s something that anybody in the church can repeat. That’s something that anybody in the church can understand, even children. That’s something that a normal person in a coffee shop can relate to. It’s not the discipling, this and that, using words that they may not even know actually [00:43:30] what they mean.

When we create this personal avatar, we’re just trying to give it a face. I want pastors, I want lay leaders, I want ministers to think, I’m talking to one individual, not a blob of people. That’s why we want to have this one persona.

Brady Shearer: Yeah, absolutely. Well I think that’s a great place to leave off Barbara. Can tell us a little bit more about all the great places to find you? We can link them in the show notes. Word Revolution, 4:12 Lab, [00:44:00] the Facebook group, all that great stuff.

Barbara : Sure. Yeah, wordrevolution.com, that’s our agency website. We will gladly go thought the discovery process with churches. By the way, we do charge for this process with companies, but we have been offering them pro bono to churches and ministries. We can run through this process with you guys. As long as you can bring the decision makers in your church, we’ll make a space for you and we’ll [00:44:30] guide you through this process. That’s word Revolution. Some people will type it world, and we’re not trying to revolutionize the world. It’s word, W-O-R-D. So like the word of God.

4:12 Lab is a very recent endeavor, although it’s been on the back burner for a long time. I’m finally launching it, hopefully October. Actually, let me rephrase that. I need to fight my own fears and say we are launching in October. It’s a training program for church communication, [00:45:00] and our goal is simply to teach you all of the mistakes that I’ve made and run you through what actually worked. From not knowing anything about church communication, to actually learning how to do it. This is not just videos, because I believe there’s value in that, but the goal of 4:12 Lab is to run you though a seven week program with a mentor. Then after that, we are hoping that we’re pushing the [00:45:30] bike and letting you go, for you to pedal on your own. That’s 412lab.com, and the church communications strategies group is also a place where we have been just sharing ideas and strategies, and I would love for you guys to join.

Brady Shearer: Amazing. Is there anything that you want to leave with Pro Church Nation, that I’ve not asked you yet?

Barbara : I just need to remind you that Chris is the man. He is really the man. But anyway, in all [00:46:00] seriousness, I think the most important thing that I would like to leave you guys with is don’t fear approaching your pastor and saying, “Let’s ask ourselves some questions together, and see where this will lead us.” Don’t fear that. I think they will appreciate somebody taking the step and saying, “Let’s do this.”

Brady Shearer: Great stuff Barbara. Thanks so much for coming by and sharing so much of your insight with Pro Church Nation. We greatly appreciate it. It’s been a blast.

Barbara : Same here. Thank you for having me.

Brady Shearer: Alrighty. There you have it. My interview [00:46:30] with Barbara Carneiro. Discussion the ultimate church brand discovery process. Just to do a quick recap, we talked about don’t worry, we’re all just winging it, and that kind of position where we’re coming from when it comes to the world of church communications. We talked about finding the intersection between form and function, the three types of question you need to ask to make a creative project successful, identifying your church’s target audience, moving beyond empty mission statements, Barbara’s two favorite questions to ask throughout the discovery process, and finally, developing a persona [00:47:00] avatar for your church.A big thanks to Barbara for stopping by the show and delivering so much valuable content to Pro Church nation. We do salute you Barbara, and again, thank you.

With that being said, it’s time for our review of the week, from the Apple podcasts store, and this one comes form Janette Yates. Janette. Janette, a good friend of the show. Five stars, a grand slam. It says, this podcast hits it out of the park every time. Not only is the information relevant and timely for church communications, but Brady’s engaging personality [00:47:30] makes it fun and entertaining. I even enjoy listening to sessions that don’t pertain to my job area because I love to analyze the way Brady interacts with his listeners as part of Pro Church Nation. If you want to connect with, grow, and serve your audience or congregation well, utilizing the very best communications tools and techniques. You must listen to this podcast. Thank you Brady and the entire Pro Church team, for all you do for church communicators. You are hall of famers.

Thank you Janette. Was so great seeing you last week in Atalanta, at that church conference, along with so many of you in [00:48:00] Pro Church Nation that I got the chance to interact with. Always fun, and I very much appreciate the review as always. If you go to prochurchpodcast.com, you can subscribe to this show, which is the absolute best way to support it. Simply put prochurchpodcast.com. We publish three new episodes every single week. Every Tuesday, a new interview session just like this one, every Thursday a Pro Church podcast coaching addition, where I’m consulting and coaching for about an hour with a church, in real time, and you get to listen in on that raw and transparent convo. Then every Saturday, a brand new [00:48:30] episode of the Ask Brady show, where I answer, alongside my cohost Roxanne, four questions from you, the people of Pro Church Nation.

Again, head over to prochurchpodcast.com, hit subscribe and stay connected. We’ll send you the next episode of this podcast automatically, and as a reminder, head over to storytape.com, get on that launch list as we move closer towards the Story tape launch in November. We could not be more excited as we’re working super hard behind the scenes to make that great.

Thanks for being amazing Pro Church Nation. We love you, and we do everything we do for you. Go [00:49:00] seize the 167, and we’ll talk real soon.



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