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"Even more than the fancy wigs and high protein clothing, it's the name that makes Lady GaGa" Chip and Dan Heath (Fast Company)
If you have ever named a business or product, you know that it is a taxing and exhausting process. It's not just coming up with a name that fits your organization and product but also finding one that is available for trademark and even more difficult one whose URL is available.
The story of naming the Table Project is no different. In the concept phase we didn't want to get held up by our name or branding so we just used one of the first ones that came to mind. For some reason, that name was FaithBox. Yeah, go ahead and snicker, we do too. There were many problems with this "working" name, one being that we could never get it right around the office. While discussing the product we would often refer to it as "Faithbook" or "Facebox", which was troubling since a goal of ours was to avoid being a "Christian version" of Facebook. It's funny to look back on it, but in the long run this was a great lesson. If the name doesn't stick within your team, it definitely won't resonate with your customers.
There is a lot of advice out there on naming your business or product.
- It should begin with a letter early in the alphabet (For alphabetical listings)
- It should have verb qualities (Google it.)
- Avoid being trendy (Flickr)
- Make it meaningful
- Make it unique (memorable and findable on Google)
This creative process led us down numerous rabbit holes. Some of the concepts thrown out included Kinfetti, ChurchVines, ChurchFlocks, and Zeel (family of zebras). The lack of URLs and trademarks available really hindered us. It's easy to get caught up in URLs and being different, but when we took a step back and thought about what we were really trying to do, it finally clicked. What is something simple and iconic that represents our mission? How do we convey in our name that this is not about software, but instead about helping people get together in person? I will never forget when the idea of "The Table" was thrown out by one of our team members. Everyone just kind of looked around at each other and said, "Yeah, that works."
A table is the most physical representation of people coming together. In Jesus's day, they called the community time around the table "symposia." This was the term for the 2-3 hours each day that the disciples and others would talk and hang out around the table after dinner. It was a large part of Jesus's ministry. It was perfect, simple, intimate, symbolic and iconic. The "project" portion of our name was added to breathe in the missional personality of our brand. This "project", this "mission", is to deliver the Table platform with no strings or barriers to every church in America, and eventually worldwide.
We had the name, but how would we create an iconic, vibrant and simple logo out of an everyday piece of furniture? Round 1 gave some promising options as we asked a "mob" of crowdspring.com users to help us design our logo. We thought their submissions could work, but something was missing. Finally, after trying many logos on for size, nine simple shapes came together in harmony to make us smile. We knew it was the right one when one of our developers, Josh Lewis, wanted it emailed to him because he “missed it.” We love it because it is delightful, minimalist and symbolizes community and family.
The logo represents a round table in an iconic and distinctive way. The table is round because no one individual is put ahead of the others. We are all a part of the Church community equally whether you are a pastor or a travelling salesman. The color palette of eight bright colors speaks to the fun and delightful personality of the Table Project. The font type chosen is Helvetica Neue (Roman 55). Helvetica is a very simple and familiar typeface and we chose to put it in lowercase to demonstrate the supportive nature of our brand.
Our tagline has remained the same from the start: "Live Church Together." All of our team members have experienced church at one time or another as an event instead of community. We really want to help church communities live out this thing called "Church" together in an intimate and daily way. Acts 2 speaks clearly about this, and we believe the Table can help make this a reality at your church.
The Table has been live for a very short period of time but interest in it has been remarkable. A high percentage of churches with whom we speak express excitement about the product, and recognize the potential the Table has to be transformative in their ministry. This begs the obvious question of why? Why would a simple product be able to have such an impact?
The answers are complex and varied, but I wonder if part of the answer may lie somewhere in the thinking a friend of mine, Mark Herringshaw, shared recently. He explained that there are basically two kinds of systems in the world, a bounded set and a centered set.
To illustrate the differences between the two types he used the example of stations (sort of "ranches" in American parlance) in Australia. Stations in the interior can be huge! The largest is around 6 million acres – four times the largest in the United States. Even a novice amongst us can imagine the difficulty and complexity of providing food and water to the livestock on a station.
To manage this problem ranchers have taken two approaches. One type of station (a bounded set in our example) builds a railing all around the perimeter of the ranch to ensure its livestock remain inside. The other type of station simply builds wells at strategic locations around the station (a centered set in our example). Due to the arid conditions in the surrounding countryside, the sheep figure out pretty quickly (or hazard their health!) where the stuff so essential to their well-being is and stay in close proximity to it. They make choices to stay within acceptable bounds, and there is no need – ever – for a fence to be built.
A bounded set is defined by its rules, regulations, stipulations – and limitations. By contrast, a centered set offers great freedom to its constituency; yet the draw of the well as a necessity for survival informs their thinking to such an extent that they willingly behave as the rancher would like them to.
We believe that this paradigm represents a good view on how the Table works within the Church. We look at the Table as a sort of "well" that will draw people of faith into community. They will go there not because a pastor has asked them to or because there are some nebulous rules that they must follow. No, they will go because they find nourishment there – they find sustenance in the community they find there, the fellowship they experience, and the ability that they have in turn to serve others.
A church using the Table is positioned to build strategically positioned "wells" that provide sustenance to its community that fill its deepest needs. This can be achieved simply by having tools in place that allow members to find one another. Or in allowing those members to enter into deep community. To pray effectively for one another. To listen to God's voice. To serve one another.
In a society that is increasingly disconnected and where people feel isolated and alone, does this not represent a "well" in a parched land? A church using the Table does not have to build railings (e.g. rules, limitations, dictates) around its people. Its people know what they need and just like sheep gathering at a well in a parched land they will gather around the places that offer life. Like the Table.
It's been over two weeks since we went public with our story about The Table Project and our intro video. If you haven't seen the video yet, be sure to check it out and pass it on. We'd appreciate it a lot, and the people you give it to will appreciate it too.
I've spent a lot of time recently talking to people about the Table, answering questions and explaining what the Table does and why. One of the questions I hear when I tell people about the Table goes something like this: "Why do I need a web application to help me communicate with the other people in my church? Isn't it just another thing I have to keep on top of? Yet another thing to do?"
To answer that, I ask them to imagine a person in the early 1900s asking this question: "Why do I need a telephone? If people want to communicate with me, they can come over to my house or write me a letter. You're saying I need to put this thing in my house, and it'll make noise and interrupt me in the middle of dinner?"
The reason this question sounds mostly ridiculous to us today is because we've each had a personal realization about the phone. The telephone isn't about speakers and microphones and copper wire, it's about the people we're talking to. We're occasionally annoyed by our phones, sure. But overall, they bring us joy, they connect us more deeply with our friends and family, they keep us up-to-date on new happenings, and they make our lives easier. We know that to be true, because we've each experienced it on a personal level many, many times.
Even if our hypothetical nay-sayers of the early 1900s didn't agree that the phone could be a benefit to their lives, it would eventually be clear to them that it was being used by all the people they knew, and the phone was becoming the gateway to connect with all those people. If they refused to get a phone, they would be communicating less, be less in touch and less connected. It soon became clear that the phone wasn't "just another thing they had to keep on top of." It was the natural choice that came from a desire to connect and communicate.
The key here is that the particulars of the phone's technology aren't what make it valuable. The value comes from the people that use it.
If you're not sure whether you see the value of the Internet and social networking to your church, think of it as the telephone of the future. It's where your church attendees are, and it's how they like to communicate. That's true now, it'll be increasingly true as time goes on, and it'll happen faster than you might think.
When you start using the Table, you'll soon be on the other side of a new personal realization about the Internet, about social networking, and about the value of connecting in new ways with people in your church. We think you're really going to love it.
Update: All 50 accounts have been given away. Stay tuned for our public launch!
The Table is currently in "Limited Release", which means no one can get an account right now unless they participate in our Twitter contest. Take a look at all the creative churches who got together already and tweeted the pic of their party. 22 churches have received free accounts which leaves 28 spots left. All you have to do to get an account is:
1)Have a get-together
2)Make a sign - "We want the Table"
3)Post your pic on twitter with the words "We want the @table!"
As a bonus, the largest get-together (longest table) wins 4hrs of free consulting with the Table team.
Current leaders - Jefferson Baptist - 64ft!(Winners)
Anchorage City Church - 64ft! (Winners)
Crossway Christian Church
Arun Community Church
Seymour Heights Church
Berean Bible Church
First Christian Church
Great Hills Baptist Church
Hill Country Bible Church Northpoint
Moffett Road Assembly of God
Soma Community Church
Tigard Christian Church
First Evangelical Free Church - Minneapolis
West Gate Church
Trinity Church - Joppa, MD
St. Stephens Edina, MN
Rock Church Wilmington
Oasis Centro Cristiano
Mercy Vineyard Church
Journey Church Columbus
Grace East Church
First United Methodist Church - Springdale
First Baptist Church- Muncie
Coastal Community Church
Calvary Church - CO
Bethel Lutheran Church
All Saints Parish
St. Joseph Church
Community of Hope Church
Acts 2:42-47 (ESV):
"And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved."
Lord God, we are thankful for the opportunity to give this gift to the Church, your beautiful bride. May it unify and energize her.
May it bring your children into deep communion with you and each other. May they find life-changing friendships where they once had only weekly ritual.
May it drive your church to rediscover the community that once thrived in your presence.
May it never be about modernity, trendiness, or technology, but about your heart-breaking love growing among your people.
For the glory of Christ, we pray.