Putting Flesh and Blood on the Data

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Arianna Huffington, recently ranked 10th on Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business 2011, offered excellent advice to those of us who desire to communicate more creatively in the church.  When asked what book has changed the way she sees things, Huffington’s choice was Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story by Peter Guber, in which 

He writes about the magic that arises when you take relatively soulless information like poll data, facts, and figures and channel them into a story with a purpose — in the process putting flesh and blood on the data. So I guess it didn’t so much change me as provide an eloquent affirmation of the power of using narrative to connect with people.

Sometimes we communicate the facts of the gospel without putting “flesh” on it.  Using creative stories can put the facts into context – the context in which it first existed and the context in which the listener can apply it – and help your communication to connect.

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Trendy Churches

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Last week there was a report in the ASTD Learning Executives Network newsletter, LX Briefing, about UPS.  The article stated that “ninety-nine percent of UPS’s advertising dollars are spent using social media outlets or other Internet-based sites.” Editor Ruth Weiss tells us that “UPS—which hires up to 50,000 part-time and seasonal workers per year and relies heavily on young workers to fill many of those positions—is using social media tools to recruit new hires. Matt Lavery, managing director of talent acquisition at UPS, realized that to reach a larger group in the prospective employment pool, UPS needed to go where those between 18 and 25 years old were looking: Facebook and Twitter.”

In this week’s news, McDonald’s is spending a billion dollars (according to Forbes) “to make its stores more appealing to its customers.” They want their customers to hang out in their stores, like in Panera and Starbucks. This is another example of how corporations ride current trends (the success of the community-friendly atmosphere of Starbucks) in an attempt to attract and retain customers. (The difference is, Starbucks/Panera doesn’t have a PlayPlace or serve greasy fast food. This is an entirely different customer, whom you are not going to win over with pleather seats and soothing, earthy green and dijon paint colors.)

Every leader must choose which trends are useful for their market. Will a coffee-shop atmosphere attract new people to your church? Will social media? Will either keep people there for discipleship and accountability? Are we riding a trend because it works for someone else, or because it will help us to creatively community the gospel in our context?

Just for fun (and a bit of truth), watch this video: What if Starbucks Marketed Like a Church? A Parable

27 Square Inch Bag

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I wrote a post about creative communication.  Then I read Andrea Swarthout’s blog posting from Japan, and she did a much better job of demonstrating creative communication than what I had written.  In 111 words, she told a story, caused reflection, and pressed for action.  That’s creative communication.
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27 square inch bag
Tomorrow is the 2 month anniversary of the earthquake in Japan.
Tonight they had a story on the news about families who lived within the danger zone around the power plants. They were finally allowed to go back to their homes today by a caravan bus. They were only allowed to take out what they could carry in a 27 square inch bag (about the size of a small garbage bag). They were given 2 hours. So what about you? If you had been removed from your home for 2 months, and were given 2 hours, what would you put in your bag?
Please remember to keep Japan in your prayers.
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Through a Mirror Darkly

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“When a team works together in an other-centered manner, it mirrors the creativity and mutual regard that is derived from God himself” (The Leadership Bible: Contemporary Leadership Principles from God’s Word, p. 383).  


Most of us would not say that our teams are perfect reflections of the Trinity.  We are a dim reflection of the unity and creativity that God created us to be in His image.  How can we become more like that image?  In what ways can we be more other-centered to bring our team to a true reflection of God’s “creativity and mutual regard”?