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.
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.