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Why We Should Not Copy The ‘Successful’ Church

Have a look at this: Seth’s Blog: But I like the sticky floors

Seth Godin reports on McDonald’s redesigning their ‘restaurants’ to look more like Starbuck’s. But as Godin says,

The challenge McDonald’s faces is not to be like Starbucks. Why? Because Starbucks is already like Starbucks. The challenge is to to tell a story to the existing
McDonald’s fan, a story that combines fresh and comfortable with the
stuff they’ve always liked and trusted (the place is cheap, and it
feels cheap, which makes it easier to bring the baseball team…)

And this puts me in mind of church stuff. Apart from the fact that I’m more of a Costa man than a Starbuck’s customer (give me one of Costa’s Fairtrade cappucinos with a lemon and white chocolate muffin soon, please) it’s that danger of copying the ‘successful’ church down the road, or that we’ve read about in the latest trendy Christian paperback (if anyone is still reading books). The largest of the churches I serve, Broomfield Methodist, is in a covenant with our local Anglican church, St Mary’s. St Mary’s is an ancient buildin – even possibly Norman, I think. Its Sunday worship for adults reflects that traditional flavour. They also have a modern church hall in which there is a thriving Junior Church. We, on the other hand, have a 1960s building that has just been refurbished with all mod cons, and yes I can now play with PowerPoint during the sermons. Unlike them, we don’t even have a Sunday School at present. I have maintained since soon after arriving here that our role here is not to ape or copy St Mary’s but to provide something complementary in the locality. Yes, we need to recover children and young people but we may not do it in the same way as our Anglican friends. We have a weekend coming up in September with Mike Bossingham of the Family Friendly Churches Trust and that may lead us in a different direction from the conventional Sunday School. Our worship certainly needs to be different, too, but worshiping the same God and Father through Jesus Christ.

Of course this is the harder way to do things: no ‘off the peg’ suit but something made to measure. Not content creators but context innovators, as Fred Peatross said in a recent Abductive Columns email.

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About Dave Faulkner

I'm a British Methodist minister, married with two children. I blog from a moderate evangelical-missional-charismatic perspective, with an interest in the 'missional' approach. My interests include Web 2.0, digital photography, contemporary music and watching football (Tottenham Hotspur) and cricket.

Posted on May 8, 2006, in Culture, Religion. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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