Peripatetic entrepreneur James Altucher recalls a time when the head of a major news organization sought his advice for how to drive more traffic to the news source’s website. The executive complained that his news personalities all had their own Twitter accounts, and were leveraging their growing personal brand and influence to enhance their career opportunities.
Try as he might, Altucher could not convince this executive that the personal influence and individual success of his employees was something to celebrate and encourage. Instead, the news exec wanted to lower the voltage of their personalities and capacities, bringing them under the brand’s control.
CHURCH BRAND MANAGEMENT?
And the church does this too.
We have invested all kinds of money into church logo t-shirts, so our “volunteers” will have to do highly visible community “mission projects”, wearing our t-shirts to increase our brand image and give us the desired halo effect.
We have rolled out our snazzy websites, and now we must channel all our communication through it, carefully curated by the brand guardians.
We have put up our precious buildings, and now we need a committee to approve all uses of it, while we explicitly or implicitly discourage “church functions” off the sacred property.
Most shoot-yourself-in-the-footly of all, we have forced talented, influential, creative, powerful churchgoers to turn off their talent, influence, creativity, and power in order for them to be put on our brainless assembly line of church product creation.
REHABITUATING CHURCH CULTURE
These are institutional dynamics, and they happen almost automatically—right down to the instincts, habits, and expectations we unwittingly develop. The only way to overcome them is to consciously habituate yourself, as a church planter, in another paradigm.
Your talent is not your talent. Your people do not “belong” (like property) to your church. There are no non-competes to be signed. The kingdom of God is vast and sprawling. Trying to circumscribe kingdom initiatives within your puny “vision” of a church plant is a recipe for a church culture that will confirm, rather than upend, the assumptions of the watching world.
Quit being a kingdom traffic cop.
Release and empower your people, because they aren’t yours at all. They are co-laborers with Jesus Christ.
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