Friday, June 22, 2007

fast company - authenticity

The Wesleyan Church's Department of Evangelism & Church Growth put out an interesting commentary this week. Highlighting the points from a leading business magazine, here's a REPRINT:

What does it take to be authentic? It was a question posed in a "Fast Company" article on consumer brands. Interestingly enough, their observations can be readily applied to the church.

1. A sense of place
Authenticity comes from a place we can connect with; a place with a story.”

The church should be a place people can connect. We have the greatest story of all time: The timeless story of God’s interaction in the lives of people, where God intersects the lives of people and something extraordinary happens. We need to create venues and opportunities for people to hear these stories. People best connect when they realize they have something in common with those around them. It is in the community of believers we come to know that we all have our “stuff,” but God loves us anyway.

2. A strong point of view
Authenticity also emerges from people with a deep passion for what they are doing.”

We believers should be passionate about the God to whom we give our allegiance. It is in our passion we will serve. It is in our passion we will accept folks where they are, but help them move to where they need to be. It is in our passion we will strive to be as competent as we can in the work we do. It is our passion we will be real, warts and all, so others might see that God works in and through the broken and imperfect.

3. Serving a larger purpose
“…if a brand can convincingly argue that its profit-making is only a by-product of a larger purpose, authenticity sets in.”

Like it or not, the church and Christians have an image problem. We are seen as boring, uninteresting, irrelevant and only partially true. Our response to this is typically to expect those outside our “brand” to get over it. Instead we need to connect with them and make a case through our actions that we are not what they perceive. When people believe our interest in them is based on only getting them into the Christian fold, they will tend to see us as “poseurs.” It is for us to let them see we are interested in them as people not a project.

4. Integrity
Authenticity comes to a brand that is what it says it is.”

It is not what we say, but who we are that tells the real story. People are more interested in seeing what we believe than hearing what we believe. In 2000 Mc Donald’s launched its “We love to see you smile” campaign. It was well done and slick, except a year later it was discovered that grumpy, rude counter clerks were costing them millions of dollars in lost sales (Fast Company, May 2007, p.87). The integrity of our message is in the lives of those who proclaim it.

The twenty-first century is hungry for authenticity. The church has the potential to address this if we are courageous enough to change. Chris Bangle, BMW’s Design Director, explains that many successful brands stumble because they are “deeply rooted in their heritage and values, they are inflexible, unmovable, and ultimately stuck in time. The competition will outflank it, and the world will pass it by.”

end of article

First, this serves as a reminder that ALL truth is God's truth. Christians should never be afraid of science principles or business principles or organizational principles. Because...if the trend of today is just a fad, it will pass away. But the biblically consistent principles of God will endure forever.

People often discover God in their search for truth. And as people from all walks of life (science, business, sports, etc.) continue to discover how the world works... THEY learn about God and WE can enthusiastically embrace them and learn from them.

Second, these things are easy for us to SAY. And sometimes you may be tempted to critize churches for struggling. But think positively. Think proactively. What are some practical ways that followers of Christ can live these principles out in biblical community?

I think the first step is an authentic experience with God...