October 19, 2011

Lose The Name

It doesn’t take a genius to understand the importance of marketing in the business world. You can have an incredible brand with amazing products, but if you don’t get your name out to the public, you’re bound to fail. Yet in a world filled with marketing and companies doing whatever they can to get their name out, Starbucks has chosen the opposite by removing their name from the Starbucks logo. Now for most companies this decision would be suicidal, but in Starbucks’ case it’s brilliant. And in doing so they have joined the small list of industry giants who no longer need to tell you who they are; when you see them you just know. A few others on this list would be; Nike (swoosh), Macintosh (apple) and McDonalds (golden arches). So the question I have been pondering is, at what point do you lose the name? At what point does your identity become so recognizable you no longer need to state who you are?

Apply this idea to faith and the Christian life and the question becomes “at what point do people recognize you as a follower of Christ without you having to tell them you’re a Christian?”

I believe the first contributing factor is; incredible consistency.
A pair of Nikes in Wisconsin looks, fits and feels the same way a pair of Nikes does in Paris. A 31 year old in Philadelphia and a 16 year old in Switzerland serve a cheeseburger and fries or a cup of coffee that taste the exact same. And an Apple puts a PC to shame wherever you go in the world. For wherever they are, they remain true to who they are and they do so with incredible consistency. How about you? When you’re at work, out with your friends, on a business trip, at the hair salon, standing in line at the store or any place at anytime for that matter – do people recognize you as someone who lives like Jesus?

The second contributing factor is; what you see is what you get.
A person doesn’t walk into Starbucks and leave with a taco. The same way Nike stores don’t sell extension chords. For that would just be ridiculous! Like finding a PC on the shelf at an Apple store. Yet that’s the case for many Christians and churches; we offer something completely contradicting to the title we bare. Think about it. Walking into Starbucks means you’re going to find Starbucks. Because what you see is what you get. So shouldn’t we be concerned when people enter our church buildings that bare the cross - a symbol of love, grace and mercy just to encounter angry/selfish/hypocritical/greedy/gossiping people on the inside? When people see the cross, isn’t that what they should receive? When people encounter Christians, shouldn’t they be encountering Jesus?

In Matthew 11, John the Baptist sends his disciples to ask Jesus if he is the one they have been waiting for, or should they expect someone else. Then Jesus responds, “go back and report to John what you hear and see.” And like a logo with no name on it, Jesus doesn’t state his identity; for his identity is so recognizable He finds no need to verbalize who He is. It’s in this moment that Jesus reinforces his statements in Matthew 7 in which people will be recognized by their fruit and the way they live.

So lose the name and let the way you live communicate who you are. For after all, that’s what Jesus did.