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The Christian Imitation

July 27, 2005 by

Subway parody: God's WayHave you ever seen a “got pepsi?” T-shirt?

No.

Do you know why? Because Pepsi—and any other company and organization worth their salt—is smart enough to come up with something original. They don’t “borrow” ideas from other campaigns and insert their own name. They don’t make look-alike logos.

Once in a great while they may spoof another company’s commercial or tag line, but usually only the very clever can pull it off.

So why does the church constantly imitate what’s already been done?


You’ve seen the Christianized versions of every corporate logo, changing Subway to God’s Way. As lame as it is, it’s one thing on a hokey Christian T-shirt. It’s an entirely different thing as a church’s official marketing.

I’ve seen so many churches borrowing from the mainstream world, tweaking logos or commercials to promote their own sermon series. How lame is that? Is parody the highest form of flattery? Are people somehow more interested because it not so subtlety reminds them of the Gap? Or is the idea to make them think it is Coca-Cola so they pay closer attention until the deceit dawns on them and they chuckle to themselves about such creative imitation? Or are people so distracted that the only chance to get their attention is to play off the success of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition?

Would the church of God please rise up and be original? We’ve been blessed with creativity, so let’s use it to come up with something that can stand on its own, rather than make sorrowful copies of corporate imagery.

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks


When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998 and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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52 Responses to “The Christian Imitation”

  • Anne Jackson
    July 27, 2005

    God bless you, Kevin D. Hendricks.
    I just wrote a post on my xanga regarding the copy-cat church culture. Just click on my name to read…as if you needed instructions.
    My church is as guilty as any (in the past)…oh, CSI Christmas, oh, Extreme Makeover: Money Edition, oh, Home Depot: Building Healthy Families….
    And then we stopped.
    No more of that…
    Personal peeve: iWhatever.
    iPray
    iWorship
    iWantToThrowUp
    Anyway.
    Thank you. I can guess the source of igniting on this email based on your remarks. God bless them. God bless us and help us all.


  • Kerry Graham
    July 27, 2005

    You are so right. It’s the ultimate in cheesiness. Here are some message series from a church I’m familiar with (surely other churches have used the same themes or variations thereof):
    American Chopper: Figuring Out Fathers
    Dreamsicle: Unthawing Your Frozen Dreams
    American Idols: The Substitutes That Steal Our Happiness
    WWF: War, Worry, and Fear

    It turns my stomach to see churches, the bride of Christ, try to present the Truth as a clever play on words taken from fleeting, meaningless pop-culture drivel. It’s lame.
    Does anyone think the likes of Luther, Calvin, and Spurgeon would stoop to gimmicks such as these? No. That’s why their works are classics, and these types of messages will be quickly forgotten. I hope!


  • Alon
    July 27, 2005

    AMEN!
    Nothing pains me more than walking down the aisle at a Christian convention and seeing a booth full of ripped-off copyright-infringing t-shirts.
    I cringe at the lack of creativity.


  • luke mysse
    July 28, 2005

    First of all let me just commend you for taking on all the touchy subjects…bravo!
    As a graphic designer this has become such a huge issue for me. Not only have I witnessed the church pilfering ideas from the mainstream, I have also had some of my work copied and used without permission.
    this is wrong on so many levels…
    First of all companies pay good money to people like me to come up with creative ideas that help market their services or products. For someone to come along and “borrow” a logo or idea its basically stealing in my book.
    Second – is the whole cheese factor…let’s face it, rarely does it come across as being clever or more relevant…it more resembles a big block of [insert favorite cheese name here]
    Third is the whole inspiration factor. I truly believe that as Christians we have a greater source of inspiration. It frustrates me that so often the church settles for knock-off ideas when I know for certain that God is able and willing to inspire us to do so much more.
    Let’s stop copying and start demonstrating how creative and original the God is that we serve!
    L


  • I don’t think it was the church who started the whole “imitation” logo thing. I remember seeing a shirt that had what resembled a Canadian Tire logo on it, but at closer glance it was a marijuana leaf on top and some clever text to replace the store name (can’t remember what it was). These types of shirts were actually “cool” for a bit and then seemed to fade off.
    I think the initial Christian shirts were a response to those… but for some reason they haven’t “faded off” yet.
    I can sorta understand why there are so many rip offs with sermon illustrations etc. If the global church were one big organization that had a heirarchy of communication and a large marketing department we could expect more… but when it’s small churches with pastors that have no marketing experience at all making these decisions, I personally don’t expect a huge level of creativity from them (in a marketing sense).
    Every creative person is stealing to some degree. We all get inspired from other peoples creativity… and usually take it a step further and call it “our own”. I think many in the church start off with a good source of inspiration, but fail to take it a step further.
    Einstein once said “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources”.


  • Timothy Hoven
    July 28, 2005

    Sometimes I get reminded of Jesus chasing the money changers out of the temple whenever I see people wearing ‘christian’ t-shirts.
    I wish Christ ‘with the two edged sword in his mouth’ would pay a visit to some of these thieves (of both other’s images and of God’s good name)and drive them out of the temple.
    To think that people have reduced the supreme creator of the universe to the same level as Nike or adidas. Can we switch our gods as quickly as we switch other brands?
    Isn’t it bad that the secular world already thinks Jesus is a joke and then we reinforce that idea by wearing a cheesy shirt with a copied slogan. This is not evangelization, but the opposite.


  • Steve Barkley
    July 28, 2005

    A-freakin’-man.
    In classical music, people often write “Variations on a Theme by _____” as a way to honour and pay tribute to one of the musical greats. That philosophy is plain backwards in Christendom.


  • Jason Matteson
    July 28, 2005

    Wow! Nice topic (I wrote on this the exact same day on my blog….actually on the EXACT same church….hmmmmm….perhaps the Holy Spirit is telling us something…)
    Anyhoo, I hate this type of Christian Rip-Off. To me, I feel it pains the Lord to know we as his children aren’t relying upon him for creative input. Are we so afraid of our imaginations that we feel it best to copy the secular market. Then if things “rock the boat” too much we can point and say, “Well, it really wasn’t _my_ idea…it was Pepsi…sorry….”
    Fellow designers and Christians “STOP IT!! I BEG YOU!!!”
    -jason


  • Dana O
    July 28, 2005

    I couldn’t agree more with this issue — why can’t the church be more creative?
    One of the biggest offenders of this “borrowing” that I’ve seen recently is Granger Community Church (http://www.gccwired.com).
    Some of this gets into some potentially illegal stuff — because you’re using an idea/concept that an agency or firm developed for profit. They were paid for that work, and now some church is just taking the concept for their use. Not too kosher if you ask me. :)


  • kevin
    July 28, 2005

    As clarification, a couple people have hinted that they know the church I’m referring to in my rant.
    This shows just how dire the situation is, but I wasn’t referring to any specific church, and no one church ignited my rant. The examples I mentioned were gleaned from a number of different sources.


  • john
    July 28, 2005

    Thank you for saying this. My wife and I roll our eyes everytime we see something like this.
    The question is, who is it that likes this? Obviously a lot of churches do this, and there must be some people out there someone who think it is clever for it to proliferate like this. Or is it just a bunch of church leaders (which is what I am) who think it is clever, and are enough out of touch with their congregations that they aren’t hearing from anyone else how cheesy it it?


  • pjlr
    July 28, 2005

    “So why does the church constantly imitate what’s already been done?”
    Because it sells a lot of T-shirts, that’s why.


  • Mathias
    July 28, 2005

    I’ll disagree somewhat. Over the years, I’ve seen several cool takeoffs that the students I work with have been willing to wear. And when other students see it, quite often they do a double take and it opens up a door for conversation. I see nothing wrong with them (students) using the cheesiness to start a conversation about their faith. Now, as far as adults are concerned, I don’t know.


  • Dan Currier
    July 28, 2005

    I totally agree, we have a God in comparison to whom there is no other, we live in His amazing creation, and are created in His image, one might think His Church would reflect that.


  • Anthony
    July 28, 2005

    At the risk of sounding “luke warm”.. I am going to have to say that I think that the appropriateness depends somewhat on the situation. I do NOT condone any type of rip-off — I think that the church should LEAD the world when it comes to creativity — but I also think that a clever turn of phrase can arrest the attention of a “noise infested world” and cause them to pause long enough to engage them in meaningful conversation. Of course, there can be a very fine line between clever turn of phrase and a trite copy… if I ever had to err, I would suggest that we err on the side of caution. After all, if God can (and did) anoint people in the Old Testament to do all of the creative work on the original Temple, He can still anoint people to do creative work today!


  • Anne Jackson
    July 28, 2005

    Isa 55:4-6 is one of the greaatest scriptures I’ve come across in regard to God “endowing us with splendor” as his children, to lead and not follow.


  • stu
    July 28, 2005

    i couldn’t agree more with the original post. in the new zealand context here, there is one church in particular that is adjacent to the motorway. every week they rip off an advertising campaign and cleverly twist it to have a jesus message. but i think the issue is much broader than this…
    why do churches need to actually have some catchy slogan or aphorism on their signs? what does it achieve? arguably we have one of the strongest brands in the world, so why the need to augment it with cheesiness?
    i suspect it is to do with having some kind of voice to those who drive by. but really, it’s less of a voice and more of a cowardly whimper in the cacophony of billboards that the average driver will see.
    it’s still an attempt at attractional church which if you ask me, is not where we need to be right now.
    maybe we could set up a culture jam competition where we deface the billboards and signs with grades: D-. if there are enough, then maybe people will get the message. actually that’s a dumb idea because it assumes people are interested in the signs in the first place. i think it’s best to just makes sure we’re bold enough in our own church communities to speak out against this type of ‘marketing’. for the sake of all humanity.


  • Stu's a-Musings
    July 28, 2005

    pithy church signs make me barf

    i couldn’t agree more with the original post found here at church marketing sucks. in the new zealand context here, there is one church in particular that is adjacent to the motorway. every week they rip off an advertising campaign and cleverly twist it t


  • Rick Vugteveen
    July 29, 2005

    Thank you for this article and the discussion in the comments. The past few articles on this site, as well as some other reading, has allowed me to realize some of my own thoughts on the issue and get them out of my head.


  • Jason Matteson
    July 29, 2005

    Do you think it’s a denominational/organizational thing?


  • brand1m
    July 29, 2005

    Here’s the thing: There are very few original thinkers out there – secular or otherwise. Most ideas you see are rehash of someone else’s work. I have no problem with this, provided its done the right way.
    For example, its one thing to look at an advertisement, observe the concept and then take that concept, put a twist on it, and create a campaign for a different product or whatever. Let’s use “Got Milk” for our example. To take the concept, you would look at it this way (perhaps): Put your subject in situations where they will drastically need/want your product. That would be taking the essence of the concept and using it. Alternatively, and the way many churches do it, would be “Got Jesus”, “Got Church” “Got______”. The point is, you cannot say “Got ______?” without thinking about “Got Milk?”
    I’m all for holding our churches to a high standard, but I do believe its a little unfair to expect great ads, logos and design from them all the time. For most, the person responsible for this has little to no training, they come up with one idea, and they run with it. To make it worse, it usually only needs their approval, so they get little feedback before production.
    What the church really needs is more people with formal education in the design related disciplines. We need people that understand concepts and how to create them. We need people that understand design, and not just people that “know” Photoshop. We need to take it seriously, and not just make it an afterthought. I have no problem with examining someone’s work to gain insight and develop your own ideas, but if I ever create the next “Godsway” logo or tshirt, I hope my laptop is struck by a ball of fire from heaven.
    And remember: “Bad artists copy. Great artists steal.”
    – Pablo Picasso


  • corey
    July 29, 2005

    I’ll have to agree. And I find the MOST heinous of all of these crimes-of cheese to be churches that rip off ad campaigns that have clearly been put to rest. The “got _____?” started more than a decade ago and I just drove by a large church here in SoCal that had that as the theme of their new message series. Are you kidding me?


  • Michael
    July 29, 2005

    Hot topic indeed.
    There may be times to borrow..or steal ideas (though that whole though shall not steal thing might be a problem) nothing wrong with inspiration.
    True. Most people doing this aren’t skilled at it, it is not what they were designed for. But why?
    Why are churches so blinded by comfort and tradition that they don’t move forward.
    Yes! Hire someone that knows marketing and design…
    I know of a church that brings in over 2 million every year…and the secretary does the design…why? What company would do that?
    Blinded. Time to open our eyes.


  • Jeremy Curry
    August 1, 2005

    I understand why some one churches do, or would imitate (not saying I totally agree). A couple reasons though.
    1) Twisted logo’s, or slogans can easily catch some ones interest, and can be found amusing
    2) Taking over hyped, and serious propaganda are often made fun of, or exaggerated to make a point, or to make fun of it. SNL makes fun of things all the time, to show how silly something is.
    But I agree that more initiative needs to be taken to come up with our own ideas, and marketing campaigns. But at the same time, I think there’s room to use outside material to illustrate a point, or to poke fun at mainstream marketing campaigns, if done properly, and scarcely. Best used for humour purposes I think.
    Although, it should NEVER be used as an actual campaign for churches. Only use imitations in skits, or programs that are spoofed, or illustrate a point. But campaigns that reach outside the church should be completely original.


  • Gene Mason
    August 2, 2005

    Great discussion. There is simply no reason to copy the “world” in marketing campaigns for the church. It is not clever or particularly effective. Why in God’s magnificent creation would we want our churches to be identified with The Gap or milk or Subway? This copycatting so cheapens the message we are trying to send. Are we afraid that people won’t “get it” unless we package it in a familiar marketing guise?
    In my experience people no more remember a copycat campaign than last year’s VBS theme. Spend time instead retelling the Gospel story in fresh, creative ways. God’s Word speaks. It’s hope. It doesn’t need a “hook” or an “angle.” It is the hook. It is the angle.
    The Bible clearly says that God draws men to Himself. He has given us the privilege of participating in the sharing of the Gospel message. Why is that not enough? Why is the eternal life-giving love and unmerited grace of a holy God somehow less than the full story?
    Amen to originality. We so want the unchurched to know we are “real” and “different”. So let’s stop holding up a mirror to Madison Avenue’s marketing campaigns and instead hold up the Light of the World with quality and integrity that garner far more attention and retention than a re-hashed SNL skit.


  • Kevin
    August 3, 2005

    I think there are a couple different things you are talking about. Christian products like bracelets, t-shirts, etc. are a different topic than churches using a Home Makeover theme to draw people to church who maybe wouldn’t come normally. The fact that America is so pop culture oriented it would make sense to use that to help reach unbelievers. I’m not saying that is always the case in all churches and that churches who have done this have done it with the best marketing or quality. But to lump them all together would be wrong as well. Blogs are notorious for making blanket statements like that. So, what if someone tells their friend about this new series about marriage at their church and there is a slick promo for it using a tv show theme? What if that friend comes because he likes that the church is using that theme and also needs some help enriching his marriage? Then what if while he is at church he meets Jesus Christ and forms a relationship with God? Is that a bad thing? What if that is what is happening at many of the churches using these themes? I don’t know if it is or not. I know it is at one or two churches I know personally. It seems there are many ways to reach people for Christ. This may not be your way, but it is a way. Don’t do it if you don’t like it. Just so you know, our church doesn’t so I’m not getting defensive about our style being attacked or anything.


  • james
    August 11, 2005

    great discussion…alot of good info on both sides. as a graphic design nut, i can see all sides of the issue. the problem is that there is a HUGE financial gap between “ultra-original” promotional themes for churches (not to mention the high priced, low-talented individuals who trash-talk marketing but have no problem over-selling themselves or the talent they don’t actually have) and the common budget of most churches (most churches=200 or less people). so how about all you “talented” graphic-design critics in this forum go out and find a “promotionally challenged” church out there who may be just doing the very best they can with what they have and donate some of your own “ultra-original” ideas or promotional themes….i know that’s a crazy new trend in church right now, but i think they call it “service”.
    …but i’m not bitter.


  • thoughts
    August 30, 2005

    2005 Summer Blogging Review

    With the summer winding down and me blogging like a mad man all over the place (except maybe here), I thought it’d be a good idea to take a page from the Jason Kottke book and do a summer blog…


  • Gary Coleman
    September 13, 2005

    I just “googled” upon Church Marketing Sucks. Fantastic sight! Where have you been all my life? For years, I’ve felt like a lone voice in the wilderness.
    I’ve worked in the advertising profession for several years, and serve as a volunteer writer / designer at my church – a mega-church in Nebraska.
    “The Christian Imitation” really caught my eye because I have been warning pastors and volunteers about this very issue for years. Recently we have acquired a herd of young pastors fresh out of Bible college, who all want to leave their mark on the world. They want to invent the wheel. Trouble is, when you try to tell them the wheel was invented long ago, they don’t understand.
    While in Bible college, these young studs got to play around with PowerPoint, or maybe did a little video editing. Now, they are “cutting-edge DESIGNERS!” You think a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, try giving a young pastor a laptop with some design software and they run amuck.
    These guys talk about “cutting edge” design. Yet their color palette is limited to black, grey, white, tan, brown, etc. Sometimes they get into PhotoShop and place a daub of spot color into their layout. Now that is REALLY cutting-edge. I’ve tried to explain to them that Hallmark has been using that design-style on cards for years. But, no, if we don’t design using their self-imposed “cutting-edge” style, then the project is labeled “NO GOOD!” Round file.
    These young pastors really make life interesting when they blatantly copy a design they’ve seen in a magazine, on TV, etc. In reality, they STEAL it.
    This summer, we had our best example yet. One of the young guns, who plays guitar and leads the praise band, produced a 30-second video to promote an upcoming program. I volunteer in our Tech Center, so I see everything before it appears on our closed-circuit TV system, or in on-air broadcasts. When I saw his “cutting-edge” video spot, I immediately recognized it as an exact copy of a TV campaign (“People do stupid things.”) running for Vonage, the broadband long-distance provider.
    It seems our young, “creative genius” wasn’t just inspired by the Vonage campaign. He stole everything from it – the look, the music, the tag line, the type faces, the color scheme …everything. It was the most blatant copyright infringement I have ever seen.
    I notified the church leaders, the church attorney, and the tech guys who would actually press the “PLAY” button, that we were placing the church in great jeopardy.
    Well, the rip-off video was shown in services. The “creative genius” claimed he didn’t know it was wrong to steal another person’s ideas.
    I became the villain. I wasn’t a “team player.” I was trying to harm “his ministry.” I heard the old lines such as “a church isn’t bound by copyright,” “we’re just showing it to our people,” and the most naive, “nobody would sue a church!”
    Our church has a multi-million dollar operating budget plus a campus valued at several million dollars. We would be a lucrative target for a lawsuit.
    To top it off, these same pastors will preach about “Thou shalt not steal.” But they don’t consider what they are doing as being illegal.
    I hate to admit it, but a part of me wishes they would get caught and sued for copyright infringement. It might be a good, but expensive, learning experience for the young pastors and our church.


  • Jesse Gardner
    September 24, 2005

    Church Marketing Sucks?
    I tend to agree, but careful, you’re using the same standards your criticizing the church for parodying in your own criticism.


  • kevin
    September 25, 2005

    Hey Jesse, I’m not sure I’m following. What in our criticism is imitating the world in the same way as a Subway/God’s Way logo?


  • brandon
    November 16, 2005

    I agree entirely with the entry. Not only is it cheesy or lame, but it only adds to the world’s view of the church as weak and unethical.


  • John Swaringen
    November 17, 2005

    I have to agree the first time I saw something like this I thought, oh how interesting, the 9,982,231,341th time it was just a groan.
    Then again what about the “Christian” or “Family Friendly” (puke..) radio stations who are playing Christian artists doing secular covers. I think it’s correct when people call it the “Christian Music Mafia” that controls these stations. I mean there are so many great independent Christian artists who actually write original stuff. Puhlease…


  • Brad Christian
    November 28, 2005

    Uh Oh! The 5th largest church in the country uses imitation all the time… lets see what series are they currently in?
    Hmm….
    whyI
    I-Fish
    I-Pray
    I-Doubt
    I-Give
    Is it a bad thing that you think about an I-Pod every week?
    No!- So imitation isn’t always a bad thing – I do agree that it shouldn’t be overused and Got Milk (Got Jesus) – overplayed… Survivor and CSI is overplayed too (depending of what area of the country your in)
    We are in a CSI (Christmas) series currently, but that has never been used around here so it’s not played… If every church was doing it then it might be a good idea to come up with a different Christmas series… Maybe Cribs?! Oops the fifth largest church in the US did that one in 2003 and that is imitation… but it sure “aint” played around here… (Maybe next year)
    Ed Young said it himself! Use your Eyes! PLAJURIZE!
    -Brad


  • Kat
    January 20, 2006

    Wow. To be perfectly honest I never really thought about it like that. You have a good point though. We were given a wonderful gift and that gift was to think on our own and think seperately from the world and not copy it. Yes the shirts are cheesy and rip-offs, but as I’ve just stated, I never thought of it the way you put it. I believe that is how many other people think of it too. I just veiwed it as people taking somthing “un-Godly” and adding their own little flare to it to make it “Godly” or with referance to God. Don’t get me wrong, we do need to be creative and use our brains instead of ripping off worldly things. But if you do put it that way you sort of need to be a little more gentle to those who have the shirts because to them they are just trying to add God to an un-Godly world. But also I don’t think its all about ripping off every TV show or brand name. Many churches/people use these shirts/sayings/sermons as a way to open a door or relate. People know about Subway and they watch the TV shows so they can relate to what we’re doing. So in a way these rip-offs are somhow like witness tools. Just so long as you know why you are wearing the shirt I believe they can start somthing really cool simply because people will ask why you wear the things you wear. If you know why then how awesome would it be to start up a conversation from a corny little t-shirt, possibly become friends with that person, them find your reason to be good enough for them, they look into this whole God’s way thing and decide they want to be a part of it too? Now I’m not saying that that’s what will happen but you never know, God works in mysterious ways. Interesting conversations can be lead up by the most corny of all things, whether those are life changing conversations or just talking with somone about a corny little shirt. But I guess my point is, we should get into *not* what we wear but *why* we wear it and what it means in our life. I love the fact that you think we should be more creative and come up with our own things because personally I think we can come up with some pretty awesome stuff but don’t be too harsh to harp down on what other people use.
    Peace and God bless you
    Kat


  • sean
    January 21, 2006

    somewhat related–
    glance through a whole hymnal full of Martin Luther hymnody, then scratch a little deeper, and you’ll find them fine reformational lyrics are pasted over top of favorite 15th century pub tunes.
    for some 15 year old who’s forging an identity and figuring out faith and sex and class and consumerism, punning around with a logo and violating the dictates of copyright, it all sort of makes sense.
    you aren’t going to profoundly shake many people’s world by the messaging, but the odd person will say ‘hey i go to church too’ and there is a cheesy little window of opportunity to move along. Not much different than say passing a grade eleven kid who’s reading RC Sproul’s Systematic Theology over lunch. Okay that doesn’t happen.
    if violation of trademarks weren’t powerful, why would nike protect their swoosh.
    think of the power seeing that fish with legs.
    borrowing and twisting things around isn’t always inspired genius, but it is definitely communication.


  • Kat
    January 21, 2006

    Okay I’m not really sure I got what you were saying in the second and third paragraph. I’m trying to understand what you’re saying but in my mind you’re saying something relating to teens but I’m not getting it.
    I am a teen; I’m 17. And when I do wear a shirt that says something about God I’m really hoping that people will ask me about why I wear it because I’m gonna tell them and it can sometimes start a cool conversation.
    And I do thank the author of the original statement for putting it there because it has caused me to think. Ever since I started to wear shirts that talked about God I’ve wanted people to ask me about them. Through author, God has shown me to think about my own reasons. I need to have an in depth reason before I even put that shirt on. And now I’m clearly seeing that “Ohh because I believe in God and you should too” is a good reason but it’s really shallow.
    If you tell them why it’s God’s way instead of Subway or (the John Deer one) why we should follow the leader then maybe it’s not as corny as originally thought. Instead of just saying “ohh because God said so” or “because I go to church” we should actually put scripture with it and see what reaction with that we get from that.
    My example in my first comment wasn’t the best one in the world and I understand that, but if a shirt so much as causes someone else to say, “Hey I go to church too” then that cheesy little door is still a door and it can still do some good. Through that we are able to talk with them and find out where they really stand. Too tell you the truth I don’t like the shirts either. I personally think they are really… I don’t know.
    Okay put me on the other side. I ask a person why they wear their shirt. They say “ohh because I go to church” or something cheesy like that. Through that maybe I can convince them to find a better reason. That causes them to think and possibly grow a little in their relationship with God, either that or they keep on walking.
    But that could go with any shirt that has God related things on it. As I said its all about the reason. Even if it is an original design you still need to be able to give a good reason why you’re wearing it. Otherwise the shirt is useless no matter what it has on it.
    God Bless
    Kat
    PS: I didn’t know that about Martin Luther. Thanks for the little bit of info. I’m somewhat studying about him right now and that is a nice tid bit of info.


  • Joseph S.
    February 23, 2006

    There are several things to consider. If i am writing a sermon on video gam-a-holics, and Xbox layed down all of the work, and I am not creative, then it makes sense for me to pinch them.
    They probably did lots of marketing surveys. Lots of research. Paid a few guys a lot of money to brand it all. Spent lots of time, money and brain power. That is my market, that is my niche, that is the person I want to affect. So if i just pinch it, i can spend more time on my sermon.
    My thoughts are, that is the mentality.
    Is it wrong? I don’t know if i can answer it.
    Is it stealing? or is it a ready-made? Appropriation?
    What if i pinch an ad-campaign and put R.Mutt at the bottom, then is it cool?
    I wonder why they would do it, if it was stealing and wasn’t effective. Plain, fact is, it is successful. Any gamer who looks at that ad quickly will write it off as a real Xbox Ad.
    It doesnt cost a lot, it is easy and effective. It is the shortcut. Do i do it as a church designer? It is hard to say, i am influenced by lines, schemes, colors, logos etc… But i have yet to try to rip off an ad-campaign for flyer, mailer, etc….
    I think this is a difficult subject, because it can be argued from both sides using Art that has been created in the past.


  • G-cel
    April 3, 2006

    G’day!
    My church (the church i attend) is near a high way. Therefore it’s called
    FCF The church on the highway
    So is that cheesy aswell?????
    Just asking….. ^_^; …..


  • Karin
    April 24, 2006

    Hmmm… very diabolical argument you propose! (At least in my opinion)
    I am a graphic designer and do a lot of work for our church and minister’s network (for free) so I feel somewhat qualified to raise some possibilities for why “we” (the church at large) rip off the secular design market…
    1st – MONEY (Sadly – I think “we” have a poverty mentality… “we” can’t afford to spend huge amounts on creative marketing… it’s cheaper to copy an already existing idea and ride the wave that has been created.)
    AND
    2nd – TARGET AUDIENCE (In keeping with the Great Commission – we are attempting to reach the “outside world”, spark a conversation and let them see that we are real too, and we have a relevant message to share. Using a combination of recognition and a twist of humor… definitely leads our audience to wonder (maybe only subliminally) whether there is only ONE reality or whether there is a different perspective that they have not yet tried to see!)
    I believe that God is able and willing to provide all the resources for the church to accomplish it’s mission (finances & creative people (who get paid!) )


  • Mark
    May 20, 2006

    In my opinion, the church is seriously lacking in creative types. Lawyers, accountants, managers, tradesmen often contribute their skills to their churches so we have well built, well organised and run churches, but after all these years, crap design and marketing (and in my opinion, often crap music too). Why is that?
    I think it’s just in the kind of personality. Creative types often don’t go the way of organised religion, seeking instead more individualistic spiritual paths. I can’t back this up or offer citations, it’s just from my presonal observation. BTW I am a Christian.


  • kk
    May 29, 2006

    i want to ask one question ! has god ever told to spread his religion by making people believe in it through offering them few advantages if they do ?
    chruches in many countries use these tactics which not only cheapens chritianity but also makes it seem hypocritic!converting other faiths by offering advantages and facilities , is working against christ ! faith should come from within not through greed , this just makes the religion seem as a political party asking votes for its leader ( in this case christ ) ,by its supporters(church) by giving out monitory gains and other fascilities.bascically this makes the whole religion seem bogus.
    god has never asked anyone to believe in him ,why his followers have to do something like marketing him and making his teachings go so ……cheap?
    logicaly speaking this seems that people who are marketing relegion are trading god for their personal gains of power over the major mass of population.they are more the sinners for God would never forgive them to use him as a tool to expand their hold!


  • Stephen Ben Yisrael
    April 18, 2007

    First, ‘the church’ is not the bride of ‘Christ’; Israel is the bride of YHWH, represented by the groom, Messiah.
    Second, the idea of using ads and slogans and lousy rock music to ‘reach’ people is a leftover from the old tent-meeting days when ‘preachers’ had to drum up crowds to make enough money to keep their show on the road. The Scriptures never, NEVER tell us to imitate the world in any way so that they can be attracted to us. The ways, words and commandments of YHWH are the life-giving source of all truth. Messiah taught us to obey them. He obeyed them. The way to ‘let your light shine’ is NOT with a $5 cheap plastic flashlight from the local Xtian bookstore. The way to let your light shine is for the unbeliever to SEE YOUR GOOD WORKS, not your lame t-shirt rip-off slogans.


  • JesusBranded
    May 4, 2007

    We here at JesusBranded agree with what you have to say about corny Christian Clothing. We’ve designed our t-shirt with that exact thought in mind-to not show the world that we’re “THAT” kind of Christian.
    That’s the main reason why we aren’t in Christian bookstores because of the bad rap you get when you think of getting t-shirts there. So please, give us a try and tell us what you think. We’d love to hear from you.
    -Tim
    Technology Director
    JesusBranded
    http://www.jesusbranded.com


  • Klaus
    January 8, 2008

    The church I go ripped off Budweiser commercials this past weekend. They are the ones with the the real American hero commercials, right? Well, whatever brewery does them, that’s who they ripped off. I was not pleased with this. God gave us creativity right? We know that beer companies are hiring people, who have talent. So, why do we as Christians refuse to use our God given talent. I understand it takes a lot of money and talent to put advertisements together, and a local church does not have the time or resources to put something like that together. The other thing is not too many people would see it and it is just for three services, but we need to do better and God had given us the ability to do so.


  • Wayne
    January 17, 2008

    I would think that “church marketing”, as a term is an oxymoron if not for the context. Obviously, most active church practitioners are of very active imaginations as a part of engaging in the silliness of a “My God, I’m Right” mentality. Perhaps your chosen diety has cursed you with a lack of creativity instead of giving you the awesome power you deserve by being one of his chosen.
    Or perhaps, it is due to the fact that you are all clueless failed artists, mothers, homemakers or whatnot desperately attempting to justify your lives by putting on airs of your connection to a mythological creature.
    God, being the supernatural being he is, certainly would not need assistance in marketing his message. And, if he did, he certainly would not be silly enough to ask for marketing advice from bored lonely housewives, crazy old bitties and former drug addict “born-agains”, he would go to the pros.
    The “Is our Church being marketed correctly?” question is self evident. If your belief is true, God dosen’t need you at all, and the question should never be asked. If your church even needs promotion to begin with, considering it is “The Word of God”, then all who hear it should be legion.
    However, considering that does not seem to be the case and is causing considerable concern within your community, perhaps you should take a deep breath and take into consideration that perhaps you do not have enough of a voice is because you are a bunch of babbling idiots, and do not deserve to be heard in the first place


  • Ken Maynard
    March 14, 2008

    I decline comment for the moment on what may or may not constitute a false advertizing of God; to instead address the question of churches marketing for money.
    Traditionally tithing was set at 10%. This was split 3% to maintain the clergy & administration, & 7% social welfare for the poor & disadvantaged.
    Today everyone pays social welfare taxes to the state, & whilst I regard the unconditional welfare of the state as immoral, I also regard double taxation as an unjust impost & immoral.
    Subsequently, I believe the rate of tithing currently legitimate; to be the 3% traditionally gathered to maintain the clergy & administration of the church.
    Ken Maynard.
    Webb site…
    http://www.communichristi.org.nz


  • Leon
    November 16, 2008

    First off – I’d like to say thank you for the wonderful articles that you’ve taken the time to put on the site. I’ve just stumbled on it and just thank God for the blessing.
    Secondly, I’d like to write just as a word of caution. Where I do believe and now understand that we should be pressing to be creative and not conform – I’d encourage those who’ve stated frustrations or anger about congregations trying to get out the message, please not even in artistry and creativity allow the enemy to divide us. I truly believe that most people/creatives/groups that do this, do so not with the intent of trying to steal from the world or belittle Christ and His message.
    I agree we can definitely and should aspire to be at the forefront of creativity especially since we of all people know that the gift of artistry comes from God, at the same time I believe their hearts are in the right place. They’re just trying to appeal to a world that does not care for the message. We’re to be as wise as serpants and gentle as doves. And they see that one way to get in a message about God is through the double takes that some have mentioned. They are being wise in trying to appeal to people. Now let us be gentle in how we bring this revelation to them.
    So I thank you for opening my eyes and realizing that we shouldn’t compromise or steal from the work that we see of other. But I encourage all of when you see ministries that do so – with all the Godly love that you have bring it to their attention; in their minds they might not see the harm in doing so. And as previously stated everyone isn’t blessed to have a “creative” person – but at least their hearts are willing.
    Commend them for trying to get out the message and encourage them to set themselves apart and be the creative Christians God would want them to be.
    God Bless


  • Pastor K
    January 13, 2009

    I just discovered this site and really enjoyed this section about avoiding cheesy slogans. It made me think! I think I’ll put the following on my church’s sign:
    No Sloppy Slogans
    No Borrowed Brands…
    Just Jesus Christ
    The Best There Is!


  • Kristine
    September 25, 2010

    It says in the Bible that we are not of the word- we live in it we are not supposed to get our ideas from the worlds point of view- but from the mind of Christ through the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ was anointed to do good- helping others. The Church needs imitate Christ and be genuine. The Church is not a club or a venue. The real question is who’s Kingdom the church is serving?


    • Kristine
      September 25, 2010

      correction: the first sentence is we are not of the WORLD



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