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How to Be As Distracting As Possible

How to Be As Distracting As Possible

Are you new to the creative church game? Has leadership decided creativity is the way to reach new people and grow your church? You probably went to a killer conference and saw that a good bit of creativity can make your church services awesome.

Creativity is pretty cool.  And if you do it right, creativity can make your church services much more impacting. Even life-changing.

But if you do it wrong, your folks can leave the service wondering what just happened. You can blind them with the smoke and mirrors of cool ideas so much, that your treatment of the Gospel is useless. “Jesus who? Oh, you mean the guy my super creative church talks about?” Creativity can be a serious distraction. It can destroy the life-changing work that the Spirit of God wants to do in your congregation’s lives and hearts.

If you’re new to the creative church game, I guarantee you’ll have some bad services. You’ll have some bad ideas that will leave your congregation confused. There’s no avoiding those failures. But failure is good. God honors failure when it’s a result of our desire to honor Him. He honors our God-fearing risks.

God honors failure when it’s a result of our desire to honor Him. He honors our God-fearing risks.

But there are some guaranteed ways to fail – to distract the heck out of your congregation so much that they’ll leave confused rather than inspired. I hope you’ll enjoy this rather tongue-in-cheek exploration of how to be as distracting as possible.

1. Become the “cool church”.

Everyone wants to be cool – to be well liked. Organizations are no different. And it’s tempting for creative churches to enjoy being called the “cool church”. The cool church makes all the national headlines. Everyone’s chatting about the cool church around the water cooler. Other churches envy the cool church.

In truth, there’s nothing wrong with being a “cool church”. But if that’s the endgame, you’re just distracting your audience. People will go away from your services laughing or crying or with jaws dropping, but they won’t remember a thing about Jesus. They’ll talk about how cool you are, instead of how cool He is.

That’s the ultimate distraction. And we are missing the point of our existence if we are trying to make our church into a cool church.

We are missing the point of our existence if we are trying to make our church into a cool church.

2. Compete with pop culture.

Very few churches have the resources to compete with pop culture. But there are so many that try. Their goal is to blow the world’s television shows, movies, concerts, and motivational speakers out of the water.

Let me save you the energy. Your church is poor competition to pop culture.

Your church is poor competition to pop culture.
You’ll never be more entertaining than the world. And you’ll definitely never be more entertaining than sin. Sin is super fun.

But the wonderful thing is, you don’t have to compete with the world. People lose interest with the world on their own.

You don’t have to compete with the world. People lose interest with the world on their own.
They start searching for things the world can’t offer. Sin is fun for a season, but it leaves you looking for something more. That’s what your church has. Something more than entertainment. Grab hold of that. Realize that the message of the Gospel has no real competition. Everything else is just a cheap imitation that eventually loses out.

3. Copy pop culture.

Because some churches realize they’ll never successfully compete with the world, some try to copy it. Cut and paste. “What’s the most popular television show right now? Let’s make that our sermon title!”

First of all, copying is not creating. Secondly and again, you can’t compete with pop culture.

It doesn’t matter how successfully and skillfully you brand your series, Modern Family. Your version will never beat out the perceptions and familiarity of the television show. You’re trying to hijack something the marketing geniuses are protecting with their lives and livelihoods.

At best people will think you’re simply endorsing the show.

4. Clone ________ Center/Fellowship/Church.tv.

There are so many successful, creative churches out there. And they’re all different! Unfortunately, some church leaders see those successful churches as menu items – thinking they can order the __________ Church Special Sauce and serve it at their church.

The problem is, they copy the recipe but are missing the context and the philosophy behind the recipe. So the recipe fails. You have to do what works in your context and with your philosophy. If you don’t know what either of those are, it’s time to find out and start making your own recipe.

5. Make it all about you.

If people are praising you for your creativity instead of praising God, congratulations. You’ve just been as distracting as possible.

If people are praising you for your creativity instead of praising God, congratulations. You’ve just been as distracting as possible.

Church is about gathering together to focus our attention on God. If you’re the focus you aren’t doing church. Check your heart.

The End of the Matter

Not to over simplify this concept, but it truly is all about intentions. Two churches might do the exact same things in their services. But one is doing it to be cool, the other is doing it to drive home their point. One church is distracting, the other is impacting.

God’s given us a sacred task – to care for his Church. If you want to be cool or engage with pop culture, work for MTV. If you want to clone another church, just go work with them. If you want to make it all about you, start a cult.

But if you want to put the attention where it belongs, let’s have ourselves some church! Risk the glorious and make something that honors God and brings attention to Him.

About The Author

Jonathan Malm

Jonathan is a creative entrepreneur and writer. He is the author of "Created for More," a 30-day devotional to help you develop a more creative mind. You’ll find him in San Antonio, Texas, roasting his own coffee beans and enjoying life with his Argentine wife, Carolina. You can follow him on Twitter @jonathanmalm.

5 Comments

  1. Ron

    Heck, this article got me really hooked on reflecting that I got distracted from my own work! Hahaha! Loved the lovingly brutal frankness and truthfulness of this writing 😀 And especially the main point of it all – about communicating Christ, not the church.

    Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  2. stephen proctor

    yes. YES!
    I agree 100% w/ everything in this article, and every church needs to read this.

    You put in words so many internal frustrations I have, ones that I am very sensitive to since I don’t work at a church but want to serve the Church w/ my life’s work. I want to help the Church become stronger, and many try to get me to help them do visuals/media/projection better…. but I never want to help them do it for the wrong reasons.
    I’m going to point everyone I talk with to this article, as a “first things first.”

    Homerun, Jonathan.

    Reply
  3. Micah Yost

    Great read, Jonathan. I love this Sunday Mag project and really enjoyed this one. Keep the good stuff coming with this team. Great execution here!

    Micah

    Reply
  4. Alberto

    Good job Jonathan! I enjoyed this article.

    Reply
  5. Darlene

    Thank you!
    Can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the praises of our previous Creative Arts Director! “He even had a guy enter the stage flying down a zip line from the balcony!” Unfortunately, not one person can tell me what they learned about God that day.

    I appreciate your emphasis on honoring God and bringing attention to Him! If it isn’t about Him, it ends up being about us or about art… which could also end up be called idolatry… hmmm….

    Reply

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