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Competing With Culture

(photo originally uploaded to Flickr by Parka81)

Last week, I was jealous to find out that Christine Yount-Jones and some others from Group Publishing were at Comic-Con to do research. (BTW, Group Publishing, if you are looking for someone to go next year and do research… I’d love to!) I also read a few other tweets and Facebook updates from other children’s ministry people who were at Comic-Con.

I think Christine asked some good questions about being an “outsider” looking in and how we can translate those feelings into how we communicate church to “outsiders.” I think we need to ask ourselves those questions more often.

One question, though, that comes up over and over again when we look at entertainment is trying to figure out how we can compete with it. OK, we don’t word it that way. We say things like, “What can we learn from how that place or movie or product or company markets itself to make church more interesting?” or “How can we produce material that draws people in like they do?” or “How do we capture the attention of people so they would rather do church things instead of ?”

I understand the need to be a student of culture. It’s what I do. I love looking at culture, studying it, finding ways to redeem it, exploring the bits of Truth that might be found in it, using it to communicate to people… What I don’t understand is our felt need to copy, compete, or co-opt culture by trying to create “alternatives” to what is out there.

We have a unique message and a unique mission. Yes, we take and use the cultural container we live in and use that to convey that message, but we don’t recreate our message to look like the culture around us or create a “better, more Godly” version of culture to sell to the masses.

The call to follow the Greatest Commands to love God and love others doesn’t always mean we have to have the better website, the better show or the better coffee (although, good coffee is a plus!). Yes, those things help, but we should be known more for being better community, more generous, and more loving.


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