You know a place is old when their main sign advertises “air conditioning.” And if said establishment is still open for business today – without updating their sign – you probably have the same crusty feeling that I do in assuming their AC isn’t the only thing that needs some serious updating.
But think about this:
The day someone approved that sign for production, air conditioning was clearly worth advertising. It meant you were a cut above the competition.
And yet, today, that very thing that made you notable now makes you notorious.
I’ve found that it takes a considerable amount of energy, creativity, and money to remain “current.” Market research, software updates, new purchases, color wheel shifts, hardware upgrades, vocabulary additions, style conformity, and a strong attention span, to name a few. And with all that work, it’d be very easy as leaders to throw our proverbial hands in the air and just assume an audience – whether buying a product or buying into a belief – will just “get” the value of our venture, regardless of it’s presentation.
This is precisely why so many businesses and so many churches fail to endure the leap from one 20 year generation cycle to another.
They failed at mattering.
Sure, the opposite can be argued: that an organization focuses so much on “being relevant” that they forget what they’re selling. But I would fault the core values of the leadership before I’d fault their efforts.
If you truly have bought in to an enterprise – from Jesus to making a better pizza – you’ll make it your Gospel. For someone of this caliber, being current will never change your Gospel, but it will provoke you to make your Gospel applicable to the day in which you live.
At it’s core, fighting hard to remain current is fueled by a desire to connect with people. And win their hearts, not just their pocket books or their approval.
But this is hard work. And often we disengage due to fatigue, fear, or often because we don’t have people around us helping us stay up-to-date.
It’s a cop-out to think, “My new energy drink is so effective I’m not bothering to print labels or use new bottles,” as surely as it’s a cop-out to say, “Jesus will speak for himself the moment people walk into our church, so who really cares about our carpets or our musical preferences?”
True, you could have the best energy drink ever; also true, Jesus can prove himself magnificent all by himself. But clean bottles with labels and inviting church atmospheres go a long way in forecasting the experience a person feels they are going to have with what you’re selling.
The day that we value how we’re communicating, as much as we value what we’re believing, is the day we embrace whatever generation we’re living in, and use every creative means at our disposal to reach it. ch: