Communicating Your Identity (and Why it Matters)

When I was first introduced to Brandon Thomas, founding lead pastor at Keystone Church, I was so encouraged by his fresh vision and gift of communication. And since then, he’s become a close friend of mine.

I interviewed Brandon on The Dunham Podcast not too long ago to talk about the importance of communicating who you are as a church or organization. Check out the first part of our conversation…

Trent:  Brandon, you know the importance of understanding who you are. If there is confusion internally, there will always be confusion externally. Talk about the effort and energy that you, as a church, put into casting vision and communicating well with your congregation.

Brandon:  One of the influential voices in my early years was Rick Warren. Rick talks about the importance of always communicating your vision. I often thought, “Do you mean every single week you get up there and recite your vision statement? That just seems weird.”

I didn’t get it. But as I’ve grown in experience, it has started to unveil itself to me. And it’s not about quoting a memorized statement.

Rick is referring to keeping who you are in front of your people. I call it tending the garden. I have some vines in my backyard that constantly need trimming. If not, they’ll get on the house and mess up the brick. When they’re trimmed, they bloom and they’re beautiful. I think communication of a vision is a lot like that. You’re saying, “This is who we are.”

Trent:  So let’s talk about how that plays out practically. As we are recording this, we’ve been in the midst of a global pandemic. How has the effectiveness of communicating who you are as a church played out during a season where you’ve had to make significant shifts?

Brandon:  When we were immediately ‘sheltered in place,’ we had no idea how bad this would get. Were we going to have long lines of people needing food?

So first off, we as a staff began to pivot and re-transition our building. But then we said, “We want to help. We want to do something.” So we began to pray and look for an opportunity.

The key is to say, “What’s the opportunity?” We knew we wanted to help, but this was outside of what we normally do. Our church is not built on a compassion ministry with a food kitchen. We don’t have anything like that so this was a new muscle for us.

We said, “This is all new for us, but what is the culture that we’re drawing from? What is our identity right now?”

Because our ministry has always been marriages, we have a unique niche with families. We’re fluent in that language. But now, we’re feeding the poor. We’re giving away homes and partnering with local businesses. How do we package that in a way that’s congruent with the church that we’ve always been?

Trent, I believe the Holy Spirit really just gave it to us.

It was this: “You’ve always been about helping people. Whenever there’s a fire, you run to the fire. It’s been about marriages, but right now the need is hunger, jobs, community, and safety. So what do we always do?”

What we always do is we always run to the need.

Trent:  That’s so critical. Ministry expression may change in a season, but the core call and DNA of an organization never changes.

For more insight into understanding who you are and communicating your vision effectively, check out The Dunham Podcast episode, Communicating Your Identity (and Why it Matters) with Brandon Thomas.


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