casting church vision

Casting Vision In A Church During Tough Circumstances

By | Clarify the WHY, Podcasts

An Interview with Pastor Mark Carter, Torch of Faith Church

Casting vision in a church can be difficult. And let's face it, as a pastor or church leader, you face difficult decisions and conversations almost on a daily basis. It's part of ministry; it just gets messy sometimes. When circumstances reach their peak and you're called to be the leader that communicates empathetically yet firmly, it can be a daunting task.

Mark Carter, Lead Pastor of Torch of Faith Church found himself in just this situation.

Mark's church – Torch Church – was a younger congregation that was healthy and an appealing place for young families but they were faced with a challenge: they didn't have a church home. He says the “nomadic” lifestyle for the church became tiresome after 6 years of meeting in theaters, schools, etc.

Their neighbor church – Faith Church – was a congregation with an older demographic and was facing the retirement of their Senior Pastor and less than a year left until they would have to close their doors due to financial hardship.

What began as an idea that he says was admittedly laughable turned into a reality: a church merge.

As you can imagine, two different congregations that had different experiences and different perspective presented a challenging context for a merge. While he's the first to tell you there are things he would have done differently, Carter identifies 2 principles that helped him build unity around the idea of the merge and eventually gain the support of 90% of each congregation.

1. Simplify Your Message

In what was a wise move by Carter and the two elder boards involved, Torch of Faith (as it's now called) began a “re-brand” once the merge became official. This did two things for their church: 1) It helped unite people around a common vision and 2) It helped the church center everything they were doing around a common purpose – “unchurched Charlie.”

This was simply Carter's way of helping himself and his congregation visualize the person outside of their church and learn to communicate who they are what they're about for the person who has no prior exposure.

If we're honest, churches may be among the worst at creating an insider's' lingo that becomes confusing to someone who may be visiting or wanting to investigate further.

It's what has been called the curse of knowledge by Lee Lefever in his book The Art of Explanation. It means simply that when we understand something well, we slowly lose the ability to explain it in a way that is simple and easy for someone else to understand.

Carter says that they spent time on Sunday mornings empathizing with the fact that a new church felt weird in some ways and that there were new people and systems to get familiar with. He used this opportunity to cast a vision for how this new merge could reach even more people through the strengths each prior congregation brought.
unchurched people

By catering everything they did to “unchurched Charlie” and his family, Torch of Faith Church simplified their message and united around a common purpose.

2. Invest in the Right People

The second thing Carter and his team did was make sure to invest in the right people. He admits that he spent probably too much time trying to convince people who would probably not buy-in anyway, and should have spent more time with people who were bought-in or on the fence about the merge.

In retrospect, he says, the first thing they did well was to unite the two elder boards together regularly to pray, discern if and when the merge should happen, and then work on the details and get everyone on the same page.

Secondly, since the church has merged, they spend time once every 2 months heavily investing in key leaders in their church to re-cast the vision of what they're about and talk about their core values.

This means that sometimes a new vision means moving forward with most of the same people while losing some. However, Carter reiterates multiple times that the end goal is discerning God's vision for their church and following that.

Finally, Carter emphasizes the importance of relationships. “Everything tends to go better when there is a context of relationship,” he says.

recurring givers

Church Branding: Communicating Your Message

By | Messaging, Podcasts

An Interview with Cody Bridenbaugh, Founder of Made By Harvest

Church branding is somewhat of a new idea. Most people tend to think of branding as a “stuffy, corporate”
thing says our guest Cody Bridenbaugh, founder of Made By Harvest.

Cody offers a different perspective. While many people may get the wrong idea about what branding is, Cody says that it’s simply helping to bring continuity to your message and how people perceive and understand your church.

Cody links a conversation a church member may have with someone about visiting their church, the brochure they may hand out to give them more information and the logos, setting, etc. that person experiences when they get there. If there is a disconnect, people may feel confused, or worse, even deceived.

However, when there is obvious consistency between the message your members give, the look and feel of the brand people associate with your church, and the setting upon first entering, people feel a sense of clarity and comfort.  That's where church branding comes in to play.

The human brain thrives on clarity and simplicity. If we can help people understand the who and why behind your church quickly and easily, they’re more likely to return and connect in meaningful ways.

church branding
So how do you start?


Cody says that the best way to begin branding for your church is behind a vision. Once you get a vision for who your church is and why people should come, then you can begin to orchestrate everything you do from the sermon to the setup of the common space where people connect to the logo.


We’ve touched on this already, but Cody references it throughout the podcast, and we happen to agree that it’s one of, if not the most important part of communicating what your church is about.

“Put the cookies on the bottom shelf” is the way Cody says it. That simply means make understanding your church and how to get involved as simple as possible. People tend to buy-in to what they can understand easily.


Finally, Cody makes a very keen insight in observing what highly successful brands do to connect with people. He uses the example of how Nike puts their apparel on athletes who their customers aspire to emulate. While the church isn’t selling athletic apparel, the principle holds true: people are drawn to that which fulfills their needs and desires.

With this in mind, the church should position their message in a way that helps people to see the benefit in it for them. Volunteering and giving will follow later, but you must first show people how it will benefit them.

mission work

Jesus Loves Arabs: Going Great Lengths for Mission Work

By | Clarify the WHY, Podcasts

Mission work isn't for the faint of heart.  And even then, it can be a daunting task if you do it alone.

Really, mission work can be a daunting task with a group as well.
casting church vision

Marion Clifton knows exactly what it takes to do mission work…as well as how grueling it can be.  His mission is not only to reach the unchurched, but to bring Christianity to Arabs.

The Arab World Outreach (AWO) organization seeks to help people build meaningful connections in Arab communities.  According to Clifton, AWO is a global movement of churches on a mission to build community through reconciliation, peacemaking, and collaboration.

With that comes opposition as well as some added dangers in the area of which these volunteers do their mission work.  So how do you overcome those challenges and obstacles, making sure that Arabs are reached beyond those living in the United States?

Clifton lives in Detroit, Michigan – the largest concentration of Arabs outside of the Arab world.  He talks with us about he is trying to overcome major obstacles and how you can too.

An interview with Marion Clifton, Founder of Arab World Outreach

Want to learn more about the Arab World Outreach?  Visit




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