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Authenticity

A Plea for Originality

Posted by | Church Communications | 7 Comments

Last week I spent some time in San Diego with my sister and we made a stop by Fashion Valley Mall. While perusing the high-end stores I saw one of the most sacrilegious sights I’ve seen in awhile: the Microsoft Store. Now, in full disclosure I will admit I’m an Apple fanboy, but this has less to do with Mac vs PC and much more to do with the idea of originality.

Apple Stores are known for their sleek and simple design, which mirror the incredible products that Apple creates. Their stores have a very distinct look and are easily identifiable.

I wasn’t the only one who snapped a picture of the Micrsoft Store and muttered words of displeasure over this blatant forgery. It’s hard to deny or hide, especially since the Apple Store was just a few storefronts down.

Some of the words that came to my mind looking at the blatant rip-off were: unoriginal, inauthentic, uninspired, and just plain lazy.

Case-in-point:

As I walked down to the Apple Store a sickening feeling came over me: I realized what I witnessed at the Microsoft Store is what so many churches are doing. They take a great idea or concept and adapt their own cheapened version of it and claim it as their own.

Whether it’s taking cues from pop culture or “borrowing” an idea from another church, many churches are plagued with unoriginality. The end result is that to many people in the communities they are trying to reach, like the Microsoft Store, they can come across as unoriginal, inauthentic, uninspired, and lazy.

Unoriginality is a common problem in most churches. Some excuse it, others embrace it, and I believe the best ones fight it.

Granted, there are “no original ideas,” but still… I am convinced that the church should be one of the most creative places on earth. We serve God who is a master designer and creator, so I firmly believe that inspired design and creativity shouldn’t be rare but rather be a consistent value expressed in all that we do. It’s a reflection of our Creator and the God we serve.

As Gary Molander reminds us, “You don’t need to create art for God. He doesn’t need it. You need to create art in response to God. The world needs it.”

The world, and your community, need the art that’s inside of you. And only what is truly and genuinely “you” and your church is what will speak to people.

The world needs originality and authenticity.

Your church is unique. We all carry the same mission: the Great Commission, however how we pursue that mission and articulate the vision God has given to each of our churches is unique to the place and people God is calling us to reach. You don’t necessarily need designers or a huge budget, but what you do need is an authentic and original expression of the things that make your church unique.

Don’t cheapen the image of Christ or the reflection of Him in your community by lazily copying or stealing other people’s ideas or work. Do the hard labor. Do the work. People recognize inspired design and value authenticity. Be moved by God, then let the things you create under His inspiration help move other people nearer to Him.

Just as the Apple Store reflects the simple beauty of the products they create, I believe your churches, in what you create, design, print, publish and produce, can reflect the beauty of the work God is doing in your church community.

Don’t mimic what the world creates or borrow ideas from other churches. Be a voice not an echo. Seek the Creator God and discern how you can use what you’ve got to tell the story God is writing in the life of your church.

What you are doing matters and it must be authentic and genuine. Start with what you have and ask for God to bless it. You don’t need mega-budgets, fancy tools, or a huge staff. God has given you everything you need to tell your story and to create spaces that draw people to Him. Make the most of what you’ve already got. Embrace constraints.

God has bigger dreams for your church than for you to be borrowing or stealing someone else’s. Stop copying, start creating. Be inspired but don’t imitate. Try new things. You have permission. Seek the Creator. Be observant to the world around you. Create things to speak to the core of people where you are and genuinely and authentically express God’s love, and ultimately, the Gospel with all you do.

Be original. There’s no one else you like you. No other church like yours. Your community and the body of Christ at large need you to flourish and be all that God created you to be and to become.

What makes you unique? What are the unique things your church does that no other church in community does? What’s the unique vision God has given to you? What is God calling you to do? Creatively and authentically express your answers to those questions in an original, inspired way.

My 3 Words.

Posted by | Just For Fun | 3 Comments

Blaine was inspired by Clay who was inspired by Chris… and yes it’s January 18, sort of a weird time to be declaring your goals for the New Year, but hey, that’s how I roll.

I’m over making resolutions but I love the idea of three words that you hope will mark your year. Instead of specific goals they are more themes that will guide and shape the decisions you make.

So for me, my words are AUTHENTICITY, INTENTIONALITY and CREATIVITY.

  • Authenticity – one of the great gifts those of us in the church world can have is the gift of BS. In my mind, one of the greatest necessities in life, especially in ministry, is authenticity. And sadly, too often, the church is one of the last places we can be real. For some odd reason we like to have a glossy finish and appear to have it altogether. I’m fairly guilty of that and I want this year of my life to be marked with authenticity in all areas of my life… personally, at work, with friends and in community.
  • Intentionality – I tend to live life a bit haphazardly. I am a fan of randomness and spontaneity but realize that isn’t always the best place to live life from. This year I want to be intentional with my time and relationships. I want to live life with more balance and schedule my life around relationships and things that matter. I want to be intentional in taking time for myself, too.
  • Creativity – I’m a creative but I haven’t felt very creative lately. I’ve done some creative things… but I’m ready to do something new. I want to do things this year to cultivate creativity and inspiration in my life. I want to go to more concerts and art galleries, read more and spend less time in front of a computer screen. I believe that the best creativity is derived by time spent with the Creator, and so I hope to create [no pun intended] time to do just that.

So, all of this sounds great, but making it a bit practical…

On Authenticity, I hope to:

  • Be real. Have some tough conversations.
  • Be honest. If I’m not having a great day, I will be real about it!

On Intentionality, I hope to:

  • Be organized. I want to start actually putting things in my iCalendar and live my whim.
  • Be committed. I want to set up weekly/bi-weekly/monthly times with friends who I can invest in and with those who can invest in me.

On Creativity, I hope to:

  • Be a reader. My reading has been limited lately. I want to unplug and connect with some good books this year. And by that I mean more than 2 books per month.
  • Be a student. I want to take a class or do something to expand my horizons a bit. I’ll definitely be hitting up some conferences this year but it would be fun to broaden my  horizons this year and check out some new ones.

All in all… I hope to have a healthy and balanced year… marked by authenticity, intentionality, and creativity.

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