Part 1: Making meaning as a spiritual and religious community (last week)
Part 2: Making meaning through story and design
We have a remarkable God that is poured out on a hurting world when the Holy Spirit works through us. God is answering our prayers before we know to pray them. God is using us even when we are less than ready.
But God and the church are not the same thing. The church is made up of people like you and me who are doing the best we can but it seldom feels like enough. The only way to be a remarkable church is to point to a remarkable God.
While I believe there are many great vehicles for congregations to use to point to a remarkable God, there are two I want to focus on: story and design.
Jesus is the storytelling expert, showing us over and over again how we can illustrate God’s love through the power of telling stories. We live in a narrative world where stories are told in EVERYTHING we do or don’t say. Everything preaches. The power of the narrative is the life-giving, life-changing hope of the Gospels. We are called to be this voice. We do this in our music, liturgy, art, drama, and service, as well as our verbal and written, print or digital communication, and also in how we treat each other. Pay attention to the narrative your congregation is sharing. It is either drawing people in or repelling them. Click here to read LEAD’s top 10 list of narratives you may not know you are sharing.
Many faithful leaders frown on the idea of branding their church because marketing God just feels wrong. Yet God and the church are not the same. God is bigger than the church even as the church participates in God’s mission in a very visual, overstimulated world. Most people aren’t noticing our remarkable God. Attention to design means visually aligning our theology using the arts. This is far from a new idea in the Christian movement but it is one to reclaim.
Luther didn’t hesitate to use the Christmas tree to preach Christ in the home. Symbols are as old as creation. What are the colors, images, and even music that will communicate our spirituality to those that are longing for God in our world?
Investing in the question of design may drive deeper questions of purpose, core values, and mission alignment. This conversation may lead to pruning programs and call for an overall make-over. Don’t let that scare you. LEAD and other organizations have resources to support this kind of faithful discernment that recognizes design is more than skin deep.
In his book, “A Whole New Mind,” Daniel Pink raises up story and design as two of his six essential senses to thrive in this new Conceptual Age. You may want to ponder the rest of his six as in many ways they speak to the heart of people who are called to share the most important story of all.
- Design – Moving beyond function to engage the senses.
- Story – Narrative added to products and services – not just argument. Best of the six senses.
- Symphony – Adding invention and big picture thinking (not just detail focus).
- Empathy – Going beyond logic and engaging emotion and intuition.
- Play – Bringing humor and light-heartedness to business and products.
- Meaning – The purpose is the journey, give meaning to life from inside yourself.