A good friend of mine Jeff Abbott, service programming director at Ada Bible Church in Ada, Michigan recently opined about the copycat syndrome in today’s churches.
He talked about how a couple of years ago everyone had to have pallets on their stage to look cool.
He also bemoaned the current use of LED tape.
Jeff has nothing against pallets or LED tape, however he is discouraged by what he refers to the cookie cutter look of today’s contemporary churches.
Jeff continued on talking about the idea that if the big, cool churches are doing something, then everybody feels like they need to copy them and do the same thing.
Jeff asked the question “Does God really want the church to be a bunch of clones, stamping a couple clones out in towns across the country?”
Both Jeff and I agree that we do not believe that is what God intended for the church.
It really comes down to a church understanding their own DNA and culture and living that out.
I was at a training session where the main topic was diversity. Point blank I expected the typical talk on culture differences and the understanding that we need to develop between cultures. The speaker asked the simple question of how many different cultures that we thought existed.
I began trying to estimate the number of countries and then thinking I could probably add a 5 to 10x factor to that number.
I figured each country had a main culture with a few additional sub cultures that permeated each country. His answer rocked me on my heals and shocked me. He proclaimed with authority that there are around 7 billion cultures in the world!
Wait 7 billion, how can that be? That is about how many people are on earth. Exactly!
So am I saying that we need to have 7 billion different churches? I believe there should be 7 billion different temples as our bodies are the temple of the Lord, I do not believe each person is a church.
A church is a collection of cultures (people). I liken to America, there is the distinct American culture but in that culture there are a lot of subcultures.
On the lateral plane there are culture separations based on race, socioeconomic class and the like. On the vertical plane there is the age difference, the Boomer, GenX and Millennials. All of the different cultures make up the overall American culture.
The church is really the same way.
As people we bring our own diverse culture under the umbrella of the church to collectively create its own distinct culture. This could be a culture based around evangelism, missions, doctrine etc. Whatever that culture is, a wise church will base its ministry around the culture, thus creating the DNA of the church.
Once discovered, each church must do and create things that fit into its own unique DNA.
This does not mean that a church cannot learn and adapt ideas from another church or other institution. It means that the church has to meld it into their unique DNA.
A great example that I experienced of this taking place was at the WFX conference.
Jeff and I were walking downtown Louisville, enjoying the downtown when Jeff suddenly stopped and pulled out his phone and snapped a picture of a window display. The display was a cool wood design that filled the front window of an architectural firm. It really resonated with Jeff (and myself), it also was a perfect window display for an architectural firm that showed off their design creativity. Jeff turned to me and said, “I just got a great idea for a set design”.
Will the set look exactly like the window display? I doubt it. When Jeff builds the set it will be inspired by the window display, in fact it will most likely bear a strong resemblance to it. More importantly the DNA of Ada Bible Church will be woven into the set and it will become part of who Ada Bible is.
If you don’t know or understand the DNA at your church, discover it!
Also do things that fit your DNA.
This includes taking things that you see and weaving them into your DNA.