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Lovemarks and the Church - Mystery

9 August, 2004 11:19 AM

This is the second in a four part series examining the book, Lovemarks, in relation to Spirituality and Church. Read my introduction to the series first.

Mystery - Marketing used to be about creating a great product with the best specifications and communicating to a customers mind logically why they should buy it by making claims and outlining benefits.

'Our washing powder makes things white. This computer has a 30gig hard drive. This car is 5% cheaper.'

This approach has something of a 'build it and they will come' mentality. If we make our product good enough and tell people about it they will buy in.

'Lovemark' Marketing doesn't aim so much at the head but engages the heart by using Mystery. Think about some of the ads we see these days on TV - a lot of them don't even mention the product they are advertising. Car ads seem to be more about escaping reality or building family than engine capacity. Clothing ads seem to be more about friendship than price...

'Mystery opens up emotions. Mystery adds to the complexity of relationships and experiences. It lies in the stories, metaphors and iconic characters that give a relationship texture.'

For an example of mystery used well take a look at the Join Me phenomenon that I blogged about earlier in the week. This guy unintentionally started a cult (of sorts) by placing a mysterious ad in a newspaper simply asking for people to 'join him' by sending a passport photo to him. Thousands joined without really knowing what they were joining. It intrigued people and they were drawn to it.

Ok - so what has this got to do with Spirituality or Church? I'd say heaps!

Lets take a look at Jesus and his use of Mystery. He told stories that often didn't make much sense but engaged the imagination. He did miracles that must have inspired a lot of awe and wonder. Often he eluded questions by asking more of them. Even when it came to talking about his own identity he didn't spell things out but used catch cries like 'I am the Vine and you are the branches' or 'I am the light of the world'. Jesus utilizes Mystery constantly - he was intriguing - it's no wonder that people were drawn to him. The Mystery continued with the Early Church - people joined them every day and its no wonder if you take a look at some of the mysterious stuff that was going on!

We could take a similar look at the Old Testament and other New Testament writings and see how Mystery permeates all of Scripture - think about the Trinity, some of the Psalms and Proverbs - some of the paradoxes that we see in Scripture - I mean who can comprehend God?

So what about the Church and Mystery? Over the centuries we've attempted to use it in different ways at different times to different levels of success. One of the things I love about old cathedrals is the sense of mystery they exude. Whilst they can be cold, echoey and uncomfortable they call also speak deeply to one's soul about the bigness of God.

Mystery is something I've not seen too many churches today do very well. We meet in low ceilinged, pastel walled, fluorescent lit buildings with few images, little art and no icons. Our preaching more often than not presents a lot of nicely packaged, easy to swallow answers that more are aimed at the head than the heart. Many church websites and promotions are more concerned with explaining times, places, structures and benefits than intriguing those that read them. I could go on - sometimes we do it well but more often than not I think we fall short in terms of Mystery.

Lovemarks suggests 5 things that one can work on in the area of Mystery:
1. Tell Stories - there is nothing like a story to engage the heart. Obviously there are stories of Scripture, but also our own stories of life, the stories of our communities themselves and the stories of our culture. We decided we're going to start telling the story of LivingRoom more in our gatherings - every time someone new comes to our community a different person will share the story of LivingRoom from their own perspective (to me its like when you tell the story of when you first met your partner over and over again - the retelling of the story engages the heart).

2. Use Past, Present and Future - I think there is some real wisdom in this one. We have such a rich heritage. I find that the times we use ancient forms of prayer at LivingRoom there is a sense of tapping into something much bigger than ourselves.

3. Tap into Dreams - I'm a big believer that when we create environments where people can dream and are allowed to chase their dreams that you create an environment with real energy and momentum. Who wouldn't want to be a part of a community where their dreams could come true.

4. Nurture Myths and Icons - I wonder if we've become a bit paranoid as protestants in terms of Icons over the centuries. Of course there is a danger in going to the extreme of this (as there is with virtually everything) but I think there is something very powerful in an icon. We've talked the other night about the symbols and rituals of LivingRoom and realized that we actually have a few that we haven't yet named. One of them I think is the Peppermint tea that we seem to always end up having at the end of our evenings together. I think its becoming a rich symbol of community, sealing our time together and celebration.

5. Build on Inspiration - Often we get inspired together in church but then go home and let go of it. The challenge is to take the inspiration - celebrate it - foster it - take it to the next level.

Now I'm not arguing that if we just start being all Mysterious that we'll see people come flocking to the church - but I do wonder what would happen if we began to explore it a little more.

Questions to explore Mystery with your Community - these are the ones we used. Feel free to take and use them if you'd like



Yeah I totally agree with where you're going there.
I think the whole mystery thing is one of the attractions towards 'spirituality' but not religion.
People reckon they know religion, they've heard Christianity, it holds no secrets for them.
But spirituality is something intangible, it leaves one with more questions than answers.
For me 'mystery' is a real struggle, working in a Christain school. They've heard it all before, they know all the answers.
Interesting idea to toss around.

Digger » 9 August, 2004 7:56 PM

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