A couple times recently, he’s tackled the difficult question of churches, copying and the problems that come along for the ride. We have wrestled with this question a few times recently. But it’s always worth another visit.
He answers the question, why does it hurt you to “borrow” from other churches’ web sites?
Because you’re borrowing a voice and thought process that isn’t you … if you homogenize the end-product without understanding the process that led to the original, your website will reflect who you actually are less and less. You’ll keep being you in person, because you can’t help it. But your website will be someone else. And that dissonance is eventually perceivable.
Somewhere along the line, we got the idea that a web site is about looking snazzy or having the newest technology. And what’s important is for your church’s web site to fit with your visual style. But in reality, it’s so much more than that. Your web site likely has two simple goals:
- Communicate the character and personality of your church.
- Inform people how they can connect more deeply at your church.
When you copy someone else’s web site, you try to communicate your information their way. You’re a turtle who found a good-looking hermit crab shell, and you’re trying to fit inside. The idea is that it’s a big hurt, pain and drain on the church who is getting ripped off, but Joshua has a different perspective on this, too:
Ultimately, copying doesn’t affect the person being ripped nearly as much as the one doing the copying. After all, rarely is the faux as compelling as the original. But when you copy, you do yourself a disservice. You cease to do work. You cease to be inspired. You stop trying.
When you copy, you never learn how to learn.