In leadership and in planning, there are often strategies and plans developed that seem like a good idea at the time. This is true in business and in church leadership.
News hit this morning about Spanish clothing chain Zara. They had put a children's jumper up for sale that probably seemed like a good idea at the time of planning and developing new styles, but once the clothing item hit the market, the outcry was too loud to ignore.
Here's the jumper (image from Newsweek)
What was marketed as a stylish jumper for children with a Sheriff's badge embroidered on the front, reminded people of this. . .
Yep, that's a concentration camp uniform (or replica) from World War II with the Star of David sewn on to indicate the prisoner was Jewish.
So, who was in this planning meeting for the new children's jumper that had never heard of "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" or been to a history class?
It seems ridiculous, but it happens, and Zara has removed the items and apologized.
While this is perhaps one of the most offensive examples, organizations have made choices that "seemed like a good idea at the time" only to realize later that it was not.
Do you remember this short-lived products?
- Cosmopolitan Yogurt
- Earring Magic Ken (Barbie's sometime boyfriend)
- Life Saves Soda
- Smith & Wesson Mountain Bikes
- Colgate Kitchen Entrees
- Coors Rocky Mountain Spring Water
- FritoLay Lemonade
- Bic Underwear
- Cocaine Energy Drink
- Maxwell House Ready-to-Drink Coffee (in a milk carton)
- McDonald's Arch Deluxe
- Tacos from Burger King
- Apple Newton (not the cookies, but from the mind of Steve Jobs)
- New Coke
There are many others (and all of these listed are real.)
What seems like a good idea, without any thought of what it looks like or how it may be received from those outside the leadership team or the board room, will often lead to failure.
Decisions cannot be made in a vacuum.
In the church, changing strategies while standing upon the unchanging Word of God is the challenge. New ideas, events, groups, services, etc. are always on the table for growing churches. The danger comes when decisions are made prior to prayer (this is a big time no no, but often happens.)
Christians Can't Think Like Non-Believers
Another fallacy is when Christ-followers try to think "What would lost people like?" or "What would attract unsaved people to our church?" Here's a reality check - we don't know! Why? Because we're not lost.
Lame "Christian" Events
That's why so many churches create lame "Christian" versions of things that they believe people in their mission field and community will like.
Seriously - when't the last time a unsaved person said "I wish there was a good Christian band playing in concert somewhere tonight?"
So often the church has designed events and activities that are good at reaching. . .church people. And, that's not a bad thing, if that's the desire. However, before you host another "bait and switch" event for the community and claim it's missional, do some research. Talk to people in your community who do not go to church, do not want to go to church, and aren't thinking about church. You'll discover more about their heart and in the process, yours will be broken for them.
It is Christ who draws people to Himself. That's why he sends people (his church) out to engage the world. Be in, but not of, the world.
What sounds like a good idea for reaching your community, may need to be re-evaluated. . .and prayed over once more, or many more times.
Don't stop engaging. Don't stop dreaming. Throw all ideas out on the table, but remember, it is God who draws people, not events, products or activities. Those are just tools that He may use.