Seth Godin is a great thinker.  His main area is marketing, but to help people market new products he needs to understand our culture, and describe the culture in ways no one else can.

This weekend I got an email to a video of a presentation Godin gave back in Feb 2003, and posted to an idea sharing site in April 2007.  It’s now over 5 years old, but is still a fantastic 18 minutes on how to stand out in getting your message across.

Be different.

In the past, marketing relied heavily on advertising.  The most money was made by finding what the most people wanted and trying to get them to buy what you were selling.    Trouble is, everyone else was selling solutions to what people wanted, and you had to create some “unique sales position” – something that made your corn flake different from everyone else’s corn flake, some reason for them to pick up your box instead of a box made by someone else with almost exactly the same product inside.

That’s where we are with churches.  Overall attendance has declined, to the point that Barna says less than 25% of Americans attend church on a weekly basis.  So we take away our label, thinking they’re staying away because we’re too different.  Denominational churches no longer have an affiliation in their name.  Second Baptist is now Discovery Church or Freedom Church.  12th street Church of God in Christ is now Church of Purpose or Church of Deliverance.  And we all use the same top choruses recommended by CCLI or iWorship.  We are all the same, but if we are all the same, then why would someone go out of their way to walk into your 40-year-old building with no gym and youth group of six?

What Godin says is that to be attractive  includes finding a niche that needs serving and deliver exactly what they want.  I’ve visited a few Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Churches that wear suits on Sunday evening, sing hymns with the piano and preach long sermons from the King James, but they offer forgiveness and hope and meaning to people well aware of their own sinfulness.  They are not megachurches full of people with casual clothes, casual attitudes and casual participation in Christian service.  They have created a distinctiveness that reaches a segment the rest of us miss.

One strategy for becoming a Turn-Around church is to be very good at teaching the whole Gospel, pulling no punches, but accepting anyone willing to change behavior, no matter what their background or social status.

See what else you can come up with as you watch it: