As if the title of this entry isn’t obvious, I’m not much of a fan of trendy church slogans. Warning…this will be a long-winded rant. Disclaimer: I’m not attempting to slam any particular church. I’m just trying to point out how we need to focus more on Jesus and less on pointing out how much cooler one church is than another. Now, back to puking!
By that, I mean I grow weary every time I hear some lame attempt built into a church slogan trying to convince me that somehow your church is amazingly different from every other church I’ve set foot in.
“We’re not your grandma’s church!”
“We’re a church that breaks the mold!”
“Prepare to be surprised!”
“A different way to do church!”
The people who put these statements together have great intentions. They desperately desire that you and I will come to their church. They are truly excited about their church. And, usually, they are fully convinced that they have figured out “the perfect way” to “do church.”
You’ll hear a lot of buzz words like, “authentic”, “relevant”, and “organic” used to describe the nature of these churches. And, I’m all for these things…I believe they should be apparent in all churches (authenticity, relevance, and so on).
With a little investigation, one generally finds that there isn’t really much difference between churches with trendy, catchy slogans and churches without these slogans.
You see, slogans are generally used to communicate some kind of difference in worship style…rather than some kind of new mission for the church.
Sometimes, these slogans create an “us versus them” mentality. Our church is better than your church! Our church is awesome…and your church is old and crusty.
So, let’s break it down a bit…
These comments are based on actual conversations I’ve had with people in leadership at churches with these trendy slogans.
Question: So, what do you mean that you’re not my grandmother’s church? Of course you’re not my grandmother’s church…she lives in a different state than where you are located.
Answer: Well, it means that we just do things differently than what most people expect.
Response: Oh, that’s interesting. So, do you pray, and sing, and read Scriptures, and have a sermon?
Answer: Well, yeah, basically. But, we do it differently.
Response: Really? Can you explain that to me?
Answer: Well, the music is really loud. We read our Scripture from “The Message”. And the sermon is more like a talk. And we’re really passionate when we pray. And we wear blue jeans.
Response: Wow, that doesn’t sound like my grandma’s church at all. I mean, the pipe organ can get pretty loud when Bessie, the 89-year-old organist, forgets her hearing aid. (All said with a strong dose of sarcasm)
Onto the next:
Question: So, you’re a church that “breaks the mold”. What does that mean?
Answer: Well, it means that we do things differently than most people would expect.
Response: Hmm, did you learn that answer at your church planters training?
Response: Nevermind. So, you do things differently. Can you give me some examples?
Answer: Well, our messages really apply to a person’s life. We give helpful hints on how to live well.
Response: Oh, so it’s like a Tony Robbins motivational seminar?
Response: I see. Well, do you guys pray, read Scripture, sing, and have a sermon?
Answer: Yeah. But, we look at our sermons as being more of a conversation.
Response: So, you let people ask questions and add in their own two cents?
Answer: Well, not really.
Response: So, you pray, you read Scripture, you sing, and you have a sermon. Kind of sounds like every church I’ve ever been to. What really separates you?
Answer: Well, we’re really an authentic community. We’re relevant to people’s needs today. We sometimes sing secular songs, without changing the words! And, we usually wear blue jeans.
Response: Wow. That’s crazy. I don’t think that anyone has ever thought of church that way. (heavy dose of sarcasm).
And onto the next…
Question: So, I see that if I were to come to your church I would be surprised. Why is that?
Answer: Well, we just have a different approach to how to “do” church.
Response: “Do church’? I didn’t realize church was something you did. Anyway, a different approach…what’s that look like?
Answer: We just approach things in a more relevant manner than most churches. We use modern culture to help us communicate the message.
Response: Oh, so sort of like Jesus with the flowers and the birds?
Response: Nevermind. So, for me to be surprised at a church it’d have to be really different. Do you sing, pray, read Scripture, and have a message?
Response: So, then, I guess I wouldn’t be surprised?
Answer: I guess not. But, we do wear blue jeans.
Resposne: I almost could have guessed you would say that.
And the final one…
Question: So, what’s this different way to “do” church?
Answer: Well, we just have a really authentic gathering. We’re really passionate and relevant and emerging.
Question: Wow! What does that even mean?
Answer: Well, we just really mean what we’re doing…what we’re saying. We’re not going through any motions. We keep it real (seriously, that’s what the dude said).
Question: Interesting. Has keeping it real ever gone wrong?
Answer: What? (obviously, he wasn’t a fan of the Chappelle show)
Response: Nevermind. So, tell me more about being different. Like do you pray, and sing, and read Scripture, and have a sermon?
Answer: Well, sure. But we don’t sing those old songs. We sing new ones (then he named about 4 songs that were at least 15 years old). We use the TNIV translation. And, we don’t call it a sermon. We call it a teaching. And, we wear blue jeans. “No Dockers” allowed is our motto.
Response: Wow. That really is different. I’m not sure I’d really know what to do (heavy dose of sarcasm).
You see, the slogans promise these things that the church doesn’t actually deliver on. A difference of worship style doesn’t really make your church more relevant or ground-breaking or different. Let’s be honest…blue jeans won’t make me think you’re different from my grandma’s church, that you’ve broken any molds, that you’ve surprised me, or any of that stuff.
At the end of the day, the church with the trendy slogan worships in much the same manner as the church without the trendy slogan.
At the end of the day, the church with the trendy slogan has the same goal as the church without the trendy slogan…to make disciples of Jesus Christ.
I believe Jesus uses old and crusty churches to make disciples. I believe Jesus uses mold-breaking churches to make disciples.
I also believe that Jesus probably tires of our competition. We should focus less on pointing out our differences. We shouldn’t be coming up with slogans in an attempt to compete with my grandmother’s church (what did they ever do to you?).
Instead, churches should focus more on making disciples of Jesus Christ…and less on trendy slogans. Maybe our churches wouldn’t need trendy slogans if we were actually loving Jesus and loving others.