I’m excited to share with you this second instalment of the Final Friday Guest Post series. Last month Daniel Bashta wrote about awakening the dreamers and today I’m excited to post this great article from Phil Cooke.
Phil Cooke (web|twitter|facebook) is this really unique combination of brilliant, hilarious and talented. It’s pretty scary, actually. He’s one of my favourite follows on twitter, I’ve had the opportunity to hear him speak in person and the proof of his dedicated creative ability is in the pudding, so to speak. I’m so thankful he wrote this article that I’m able to share with you. Read it – you’ll be challenged and encouraged – and then connect with Phil online and continue learning from him. I know I do!
An internationally known writer and speaker, Phil Cooke has actually produced media programming in nearly 50 countries around the world. In the process, has been shot at, survived two military coups, fallen out of a helicopter, and in Africa, been threatened with prison. And during that time – through his company Cooke Pictures in Burbank, California – he’s helped some of the largest nonprofit organizations and leaders in the world use the media to tell their story in a changing, disrupted culture.
Should We Worry about Offending Church Members?
In my new book, “Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media” I explain that “branding” is essentially a compelling story that surrounds a product or company. Corporate giants like Apple, Nike, and Starbucks have built powerful brands that tell persuasive stories about their products. But the truth is, it was Christianity that invented the principles we now call branding. But today, Christians are rapidly losing our ability to share their story in a compelling way. As a result, the church continues to slide into cultural irrelevance.
Lately I’m reading Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957). She was one of the famous “Inklings” – the group of writers at Oxford that included C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. In her book, Letters to the Diminished Church, she writes:
“First, I believe it to be a grave mistake to present Christianity as something charming with no offense to it. Seeing that Christ went about the world giving the most violent offense to all kinds of people, it would seem absurd to expect that the doctrine of his person can be so presented as to offend nobody. We cannot blink at the fact that gentle Jesus, meek and mild, was so stiff in his opinions and so inflammatory in his language that he was thrown out of church, stoned, hunted from place to place, and finally gibbeted as a firebrand and a public danger.”
In our present day efforts not to offend, I wonder if that’s taken some of the distinctiveness out of our faith. Granted, most of the people Jesus offended were the religious folks. When Jesus was confronted by sinners or the suffering, he was far more tender and gracious. He saved his most fiery volleys for the hypocritical types within the church.
Also, understand that when I talk about offending, I don’t mean for stupid reasons. Wildly colored hair, prosperity preaching, Jesus junk products, cheesy, out of date approaches and styles – no one has the right to be stupid in their presentation of the Christian faith.
But today, we hear pastors try everything in their arsenal to defend a point of doctrine without actually using the scriptures. We think the audience will “relate” to it better, when it may actually be positioning the Christian faith as just another lifestyle choice, and not the raging fire that transformed the Western world.
I wonder in our well intentioned desire to embrace the culture, if we’re losing the very heart of the greatest story ever told? Are we trying so hard to be hip and contemporary, we’ve lost sight of the fact that the Christian faith is compelling, not because it’s nice, cool, or positive, but simply because it’s true.
I think if we really believed that, it would dramatically change the way we present the Christian message.