Sunday, April 29, 2007

Mark Batterson on Sermon Branding @ New Church Conference

Mark Batterson is doing an incredible job of planting a new multi-site church in Washington, D.C.
He also writes a great blog and just this week posted notes in addition to a session he was doing at the New Church Conference:
I don't have time to talk about sermon branding in my session today so here are some notes.

John 12:50 has always been my preaching mantra. Jesus said, "I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it."

What is sermon content.
How is sermon branding.

I have a core conviction: the greatest truths ought to be communicated in the most unforgettable ways. And when it comes to communicating things in unforgettable ways, how is just as important as what. I don't just want people to remember. I don't want them to be able to forget.

Sermon branding is nothing new. It's as old as the ancient prophets using God-inspired props to make their messages stick. Jesus took the Old Testament art form to a new level. No one was better at branding truth than The Truth. His parables are pure genius. Hear them once and you'll remember them forever! Sermon branding is hard work, but it isn't optional if we're serious about communicating like Christ.

Seven Steps to Sermon Branding:

#1 Come up with a series title

There is a fine line between catchy and cheesy. The goal is to reduce an entire series to a single word, phrase or symbol that captures the essence of the series. Book titles, magazine ads, TV shows, board games, and movies are a great source of creative inspiration.

#2 Create a series logo

The old aphorism is wrong. A picture isn't worth a thousand words!

According to neurological research, the brain is able to process print on a page at a rate of approximately one hundred bits per second. But the brain can process a picture at approximately one billion bits per second. Mathematically speaking, a picture is literally worth ten million words!

Images are important because of the way the brain processes information. The brain recognizes and remembers shapes first, colors second and content third. It is the sequence of cognition. If you want people to listen to the content of what you have to say, you better think about how you shape it and color it. And if choosing color schemes seems to be void of spiritual significance read the book of Exodus. A dozen chapters are devoted to design. God gives very specific instructions about colors and scents to be used in the Tabernacle.

#3 Design a series evite and invite

The key to buzz is word of mouth and word of mouse. One way to generate buzz about a sermon series is to send out an evite to your church email list. Encourage your congregation to forward it to a friend. And it turns church into a tag-team sport. The goal is to turn attenders into buzzers.

#4 Brainstorm Big Ideas

The more you say the less they will remember. It's the law of scope: more is less and less is more. That's why I try to reduce every message into one big idea. Why? Because people only remember one thing!

If you try to make too many points, your message turns into a bed-of-nails. Lie down on a thousand nails and they won't penetrate the skin. Why? The pressure of each point is diffused by all the others around it. Too many sermons are a bed-of-nails. But a single point will penetrate the heart and soul like a single nail.

#5 Shoot a Series Trailer

One way to brand a series and generate excitement is to add creative video elements. Our creative team brainstorms creative elements every week at our Big Idea meeting. And we try to produce a trailer that captures the essence of the series and sets up the message.

Check out some of our videos @

#6 Design a microsite.

Check out It's a microsite we created for our Chase the Lion series.

#7 Add Sermon Props

Jesus used everything from mustard seeds to Romans coins to make his messages stick. He preached from boats, washed feet, and used little children as sermon props. The reason sermon props make messages more memorable is because they involve more than one sense. The more multisensory your message is the more memorable it will be.

One idea is to create a series t-shirt. Turn your congregation into walking billboards.

Some great ideas from a guy who is on the leading edge! To learn more about Mark Batterson or National Community Church, check out his blog: