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'Purple Cow' Church

20 May, 2004 3:20 PM

purplcow.jpgHas the church lost its remark-ability? Are we just another run of the mill black and white, boring, cow?

This morning I finished reading Purple Cow by author (and blogger) Seth Godin. Its a great little marketing book about being 'remarkable'. The basics of the book are that the way marketing has been done for decades (that if you throw enough money at a advertising a product you can guarantee its success) just doesn't work any more. His argument is that in order to be successful today you need a 'purple cow' type idea, product or service. He illustrates the idea of a 'purple cow' by describing a trip in the countryside where initially the cows by the side of the road grabbed his attention but soon became 'boring' or 'normal'. After an hour or so of driving he didn't even see the cows any more. It would have taken a purple one to get him to notice and be intrigued by a cow by that time.

This is true in many sphere's of life. Seth goes on to talk about how we are bombarded with so many message that it takes a pretty remarkable new product to break through our defense systems. He then goes on to talk about ways of being a 'purple cow'.

I wonder how it might apply to Church? After centuries of the church operating in pretty much the same paradigms, speaking pretty much the same message in pretty much the same way I wonder if perhaps we've lost some (if not all) of our remark-ability? It is a pity, because the message of Jesus is pretty remarkable - Take 'love your enemies' for example. Those are pretty shocking, confronting kind of words to say, let alone live out.

Jesus actually has a similar message to Seth. We're called to be the salt of the earth, the light of the world. Those are pretty remarkable things to be. You certainly know about it when you experience one or the other.

I wonder if we've lost some of our saltiness, if perhaps our light is a little dim. I wonder if perhaps if the church has become a little comfortable. We were the centre of western culture for so long that we've stopping pushing the boundaries and taking initiative. In doing so perhaps we've become a tad boring.

I look at the church as it is presented in Acts 2 and I see a dynamic and remarkable group of people. They are a 'purple cow' in the truest sense of the concept. They live what they believe, they stand out from their surrounding culture - risking everything, giving up all for the cause.

Maybe its time we woke up from our zombie like, comfortable existence and rediscovered some of the remarkable call that we've actually been left with. Maybe its time we became the church of the 'purple cow'.



Well, purple cows would certainly "hit you in the eye," wouldn't they. Yes, we blend into the background and become pretty well invisible. Loved your reference to salt and light. I quoted that too today in reference to ppleas for "Jesus party" members.

Jan » 20 May, 2004 6:28 PM

couldn't agree more darren

tim » 20 May, 2004 9:14 PM

I agree! Good stuff Darren!

David Finch » 20 May, 2004 11:26 PM

it's definitely (well past) time for the church, especially in the west, to shake off our lethargy and live what we say we believe. but i don't quite understand what "operating in pretty much the same paradigms, speaking pretty much the same message in pretty much the same way" means. if it's a critique of the church for failing to be salt and light, i'm on board (and i'm guilty, too). but our message shouldn't change -- the gospel has a power all its own, regardless of how we package it. if we'd just be faithful to preach the good news, and we'd live out the implications of that message, we'd appear @ least lavender, i'd imagine. thanks for the post, darren.

sam » 21 May, 2004 12:07 AM

I think we all long to see the church become something that is remarkable by sheer virtue of being what it's supposed to be. At the same time, I'd hate to see it latched onto by suburban megachurches, who would then spawn a plethora of weird mini-churches because it's good marketing. Thanks for pointing out the need to achieve purpleness authentically rather than as a marketing strategy.

Justin Baeder » 23 May, 2004 5:24 AM

My boss just gave me a copy of Purple Cow and as a newly appointed administrator for a para-church organization it is my responsiblity to assist in the discovery of our purple cow. I agree wholeheartedly with your comments concerning the church and will watch this discussion as I read the book.

Jason Lewis » 11 June, 2004 6:05 AM

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