Not too long ago, I was driving and saw a bumper sticker that was “borrowing” from the very popular “Got Milk” ad campaign. It said “Got Hope.” It was a political bumper sticker, and it drove me nuts.
Not because of the political agenda, but for two other reasons. The first being it was an idea that got burned into the ground a few years ago. The times are different, the message should be too. But the bigger reason it drove me nuts was that they were stealing the advertising campaign of a very notable company.
It got me thinking, why is it that when someone comes up with a good, creative idea – it must then be copied thousands of times over until it has lost all meaning? Inevitably, that once creative idea becomes…cliche. Click to read the definition of cliche.
So someone had a really creative idea, and it became popular because it was a really creative idea. Then the rest of us lazy folk, just rip off their idea and apply it to our use however we can. Sometimes for good, often times for marginally related events or content.
What I’m saying isn’t new. It’s been said a hundred times before. But it’s fresh on my mind. I’ve been reading “Culture Shift” by Robert Lewis & Wayne Cordiero, as well as “Addicted to Mediocrity” by Franky Schaeffer which both speak to this issue. Culture shift deals specifically with church programming and not taking a program from another church and cookie cutting at your church. Franky speaks more specifically about art, and not being afraid of it.
I’ll be the first to admit, if I see a good idea from another church, I want to use it right away. If I see a cool commercial or a good movie, I want to use the ideas in whatever way I can. Often times we do use it. Mostly out of necessity. When you have to have good creative ideas every week, it’s much easier if you can use others’ ideas and just implement them.
Here’s the whole point. Borrowing ideas from other churches is good, and I would often recommend it. However, if you want to be really great, then use the creativity that God has given you, and create something specific for your community. Sure, it may not be at the same level as what others are doing, but it will be relevant. And, in my experience, Relevance Trumps Quality. Quality is very important, but if the message connects with people, they can overlook quality. But, if the message doesn’t connect, or is too abstract, no amount of quality can speak the content that is missing.
God has planted each of us where we are because he wants to use us there. Let’s spend more time on the hard work of creating and less time copying.
If we’re the first ones to use and idea, we will never be cliche.