Donald Miller. Building A StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen. HarperCollins, 2017. 228 pp. Hardback. ISBN 978-0718033323. $24.99.

Donald Miller wrote Building A StoryBrand with this purpose in mind, “Your customer should be the hero of the story, not your brand” (p. ix). The book takes the reader through Miller’s “seven-part framework” (SB7 Framework) for clarifying their message so that their customers will listen (cf. 40). The author begins with a general overview of the purpose and the process in the first two chapters of the book. Next, he provides an in-depth explanation of each step in the SB7 Framework. To conclude, he advises his readers how to apply this strategy to their website and work culture.

Why You Should Read This Book

From the outset, the book exists as a marketing and communications resource, but the information contained within remains extremely valuable. Many businesses, leaders, and even the church could benefit from the contents within Building A StoryBrand. However, I want to share why I think that church leaders should carve some time out of their schedules to read about Miller’s SB7 Framework.

Francis Schaeffer has been credited with the statement, “All truth is God’s truth.” In Think Orange, Reggie Joiner generalizes that “the role of the church is simply to turn on a light” (Loc. 290, Kindle Version). These two thoughts will inform our discussion for why church leaders should read Donald Miller’s Building A StoryBrand.

Miller highlights certain truths about people–especially individuals that live in a consumeristic culture like America. Many Americans desire to be the hero of their own story. Nevertheless, many people need “a guide” (p. 81) to help them along life’s journey. Miller’s work targets how businesses and products fill this void in the lives of their customers. Might I offer that the church has a redeeming message that will satisfy the deepest chasm in their soul? While many consumers are looking for a guide to make them the hero of their story, we have a Savior who will reshape their entire life’s journey.

Church leaders know we have a clear and simple message. Jesus prayed, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). Jesus proclaimed, “Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). The message is simple and clear, but I am concerned that the church has forgotten the truth that Miller presents, which is that empathy builds trust and “people trust those who understand them” (p. 79). King Jesus showed empathy to the leper in Mark 2:40-45, and healed him from his leprosy pointing many people to his redeeming message (see Mark 2:45). As church leaders, we should learn that we don’t ever change the message, but we may need to think more strategically about our methods for conveying the gospel. In other words, we need to connect with the community around us. Miller’s book helps us think strategically about being a gospel guide.

In addition, churches need to rethink how they use their resources to strategically point people to Jesus Christ as the Son of God (John 20:30-31). Miller’s work will help you think in terms of how you can “turn on the light” as Joiner states by the way you “market” to your community. By the way, I understand that the church exists as an organism (made up of believers), but the church also has an organization component. You know that too because you have business meetings, church budgets, and scheduling tools.

It has become common knowledge that people will visit your webpage before they step foot on your premises. Miller will help you think about how to create a website that points all who visit it to the light of the gospel. If you are a church leader, look at your website as if you were a potential guest or a lost person. What impression would a guest or unbeliever take away from your online presence? Do they know that you exist to shine the light on Jesus? Are you conveying to them the glory and magnitude of Christ? Miller’s SB7 Framework will assist you in highlighting the glory of Jesus Christ and his ability to transform and change lives of all who call upon his name through the various resources you use to connect with your community.

Concluding Thoughts

As a church leader, you will not implement all that Miller discusses in this book because it is mainly for businesses. However, this should not deter you from reading it because it will get you thinking about how you can communicate and connect people to the gospel. The gospel is good news, but it is only good news if people hear it. That is why Paul says, “As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news'” (Romans 10:15)! To put it another way, Paul’s context is that it is only good news when heard, and it is for this reason that I highly recommend you read Donald Miller’s book Building A StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen.

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