Three keys: teamwork, PR, branding

Published April 1, 2012

The Rev. Beth Fellinger instantly engaged attendees at her leadership workshop during the recent Vital Church Planting conference by opening with an entertaining video. The comic skit featured the stage antics of two bumbling fishermen, Pete and Andy, who, it soon became obvious, were modern-day proxies for Christ’s net-wielding disciples, Andrew and Simon Peter. The video got everyone’s attention and underscored Fellinger’s commitment to attractive media-and fun-in fresh expressions of church.An expert in missional leadership, the Rev. Fellinger, founding pastor of the Christian Reformed Destination Church in St. Thomas, Ont., said that even the most visionary church pioneer needs a team. “You may be gifted with vision, but you don’t have everything. Live in your strengths but get others onboard to complement your strengths.”A good team includes seed throwers, fire starters, grace givers, hope peddlers and risk takers-people who love God and others who are “transfixed and mesmerized by Jesus.” But among these there should also be detail people: organizers, administrators, accountants, hospitality planners, IT staff and marketers, the pastor said.In establishing a successful new church such as Destination-70 per cent of whose congregants are under age 30-marketing, branding and public relations play a surprisingly important role. Acknowledging this, Destination delivers flowers to a local business each week on Terrific Tuesday, thanking each establishment in the name of the church for its positive impact on the community. That gets people’s attention.And as a branding exercise, Destination sought permission to place a church float in St. Thomas’s November 2011 Santa Claus Parade and crafted an innovative Advent calendar entry. That got people’s attention, too, as did the hundreds of cookies and cups of hot chocolate they served at the downtown church’s door. “And the next morning, a church team put on their gloves and went out and cleaned up the street after the parade,” she said. Destination started with a core team of 17 and held its first service in January 2011. It now has more than 200 members and serves a broad-spectrum congregation, including business people, young single moms, lawbreakers and addicts with high needs.


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