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Lovemarks and the Church Sensuality

10 August, 2004 12:25 PM

This is the third in a four part series examining the book, Lovemarks, in relation to Spirituality and Church. Read my introduction to the series first. Sensuality As we've already touched on, the traditional approach focuses more upon convincing the mind through logic, information and claims. Lovemark Marketing is more interested in emotions. Stimulating the Senses is one of the best ways in which to do this.

"Our senses work together, and when they are stimulated at the same time the results are unforgettable.... They alert us, enflame us, warn us as well as fill our hearts with joy." Its amazing how a simple smell can transport us back in time to a specific moment (good or bad) - how the touch of another person can warm our soul or how putting on a CD can change the whole mood and atmosphere of a party.

Sight, Touch, Hearing, Taste and Smell are powerful forces - they are the way in which we take in information, learn and grow. Advertisers are discovering this and are finding new ways to engage our senses with what they do. I think of my local supermarket and the coffee company that regularly sets up a booth of free brewed coffee. I know that they are there even before I enter the isle in which they are set up because of the smell which wafts through the shop. By the time I get to them I'm ready to buy their product purely on its smell.

"All of our knowledge comes to us through the senses, but they are far more than sophisticated gatherers of information. They senses interpret and prioritize. When we feel emotionally connected, we say "That makes sense". Jesus used sensuality in his ministry. How many times do we see him at the meal table (to the point of being accused of being a glutton and drunk), he provides food for 5000 people (imagine how good that bread and fish must have tasted and what that did for that crowd!), he touched the untouchable....etc. Even his story telling is very sensory - he speaks in a very visual ways of things that would have engaged the imaginations and memories of his listeners. He uses a daily activity like eating bread and drinking wine to remind his followers of him. The list could go on and we could do the same for the early church and Old Testament. The bible is a collection of very Sensory writings - and I haven't even mentioned Song of Songs yet! So what about the Church and Sensuality? Once again we can look back over history and see both ways the Church has engaged the senses and ways in which it has shied away from them. Again I think of some of the Cathedrals I visited last year in Europe. Stain glass windows that told the stories of the gospels to the illiterate, incense, icons, chanting.... For some reason we've moved away from a lot of these things. I can understand on one hand why there was a shift away from icons, smells and bells etc - but on the other hand perhaps we threw out the baby with the bath water. You see my experience of church growing up was one in which only two or three of the senses were stimulated in the same unimaginative ways each week. These days in church we continue to use music, most of us still celebrate the Lords Supper (although we've reduced it to a sip of juice and a bit of a cracker), some churches attempt visual stimulation with flowers, powerpoints and video clips etc - but I wonder if we're short changing our sense when it comes to spirituality. One of the things I love about the Alt Worship movement is that it takes seriously sensuality. Some of the most profound experiences of God I've had in a group context have taken place with either my senses being overloaded or deprived (fasting, silence etc use the senses by starving a person of their stimulation). In my last church we used to have a rule that in each service we wanted to intentionally stimulate at least 3, if not all 5 of the senses in new and creative ways - I think its a great rule.

'In the sensual world, faster, brighter, louder hit the wall real quick. People turn off and you lose them. Lovemarks need Sensuality, bu they need it with a human touch.' Is there a danger in taking Sensuality too far? Probably - I think we can all think of instances where perhaps church got a little too sensual in Church history (and even in today's context). However I don't think most churches are in any danger of taking it too far at present. Questions to explore Sensuality with your Community - these are some of the things we asked ourselves at LivingRoom last week on the topic. Feel free to take and use them if you'd like - add your own below in comments. How did Jesus engage the Senses in his Ministry? What other times in Scripture do we see it used? Describe times in your own journey when you've been drawn closer to God through your senses How has the church used Sensuality over the centuries from the Early Church in Acts to now? (focus on the good and the bad). What dangers would there be in taking 'Sensuality' too far in a church context? What would the benefits of it be? Which of the Senses do we engage most in our church? Which do we ignore? How do we/can we creatively use the Senses to help us in our own journey of faith and mission in our community? All quotes used in this post come from 'Lovemarks'.

Comments

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Man, where was this post two weeks ago? I gave this talk during our Wednesday night gathering (Redeeming Sensuality). I come from a tradition that values knowledge as the primary way of "experiencing" God. We STUDY! If we want to get closer to God...we STUDY more! If there is something wrong in our lives we STUDY! IF things are going well we STUDY how to keep them that way. We are a culture of STUDENTS. And while I feel that there is great value in study, the concept of discipleship is both student and follower. Both cerebral and sensual. Both learned and experienced.

This new-old way of looking at what it means to be a student-follower of Jesus has both pushed me out of the comfort zone where Christianity is lived mostly between the ears and helped me to more fully experience what abundance looks like, feels like, tastes like. God communes with us through the senses to continually reinforce his love for us. We've got to (the church) help people feel, touch, hear, and taste and see that the Lord is good!

Enjoy the journey!

chris » 12 August, 2004 12:42 AM

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