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questions welcome

"I really enjoyed the service today. I will be doing more research on the Methodist denomination as this organization is new to me. That said, I was so taken with the website. So much of what I read I so very personally identified with. And now having met you, I feel assured the website sincerely reflects the heart and mission of the church. So thankful." -- a first time guest to our faith community earlier this month

That's branding. A church sharing their story in a way that matches what someone experiences in our actual time together.

That's authenticity, vulnerability and clear communication - which is something people value. In our overconnected, oversaturated world, clear and simple cuts through the chaos.

When a church's mission and vision line up with what they're actually communicating, the stage is set for some wonderful things in God's kingdom.

Imagine a building with space to be in conversation, hear someone's story and their deep questions about faith and life. Places for people from every generation to feel valued and heard.

Branding can help with this.

Branding is telling the story of who you are and why you exist.

Our church leaders started a branding process a couple months ago. We wanted to clarify what made us unique in our town of about 70,000 people. It's a fairly conservatively religious town with a lot of churches. Our church was the first in town, over 125 years ago. Why does the town still need our specific faith community? What do we bring to the conversation?

At first, we spent a lot of time talking about our desire to welcome people right where they are AND inviting them to grow in Christ. We found this difficult to communicate in a short memorable way. This turned out to be more of a value or potential vision.

This church voted to become a reconciling church in March 2015. We knew there weren't a lot of churches in town where LGBTQ person were fully welcome to participate and lead. Maybe this was our significant message to communicate?

We then realized our rainbow flag on our board out front, our website and lobby communicate a lot about us without giving language to it. One new person shared they are straight and knew the rainbow meant we were welcoming and open to all. This was a place they wanted to be. The rainbow flag was already part of our brand.

That led us to the other thread that kept coming up. I often hear people say they’re surprised to find a church where it’s okay to ask questions. They haven’t always experienced this in other kinds of faith communities. This is a game changer for us. If we can effectively communicate to our neighbors, friends and community that Marysville United Methodist Church is a place where our questions are welcome, then God has an opportunity to connect and journey with new people.

Questions are central to the way Jesus taught and interacted with people. Having a safe space to ask questions is integral to spiritual growth. We have a wonderful opportunity to live this out in how we live and love together as a church. This already lines up with our theology and lived practice of our faith. Questions and doubt awaken our faith. It means we're alive! Our faith is not a static story to memorize and rules to follow. It's a relationship with God, others and creation that's real.

So we're excited to share the outcome of our branding process today. Questions Welcome. We are a church where questions are welcome. All of them. God can handle them. They're necessary to grow in faith and as humans. And when we connect with others asking similar questions, we realize we're not alone. All God needs to change a life is a sense of openness and curiosity that maybe we don't have all the answers. 

We look forward to seeing how this weaves itself into our life together in coming months!

Your branding team: Pastor Jenny Smith, Caryn Young, Anne Rodeheaver, Jodie Moll, Steve King, Lisa Fuller, Vern Woods, Steve Smith, Bill Gordon, Jason Crocker, Heather Riggs, Tanya Pile, Katie Oliver, Lei Canonizado, Briannan Cohrs, Kim Clark & Kass Clark

Below you can see some examples of what we can share with our community as we create space for our questions and conversation.


Lynn Shinnick said…
Just thinking...I understand in branding we are reaching out to the unchurched, and charting new waters in attempting to meet their needs where they are. Questioning is a part of growing in faith, and doubt comes and goes, but the two are not always related. You can believe in God, but still have many questions. Questioning is part of growth. I think we need to make that clear to our current congregation too, so we don't seem to be JUST reaching out evangelically and forgetting our faithful.
jenny said…

I agree. You'll hear much of this message internally as we work through what it means for all of us to be open to the questions and wonderingly we have on our faith journey. And the neat thing is much of this was born out of the Monday night doubt group we started in February at the church. The conversations are already happening for those who consider themselves part of our faith community. You're on the right path!

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