Can We or Can’t We?

If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right. – Henry Ford

Over vacation I read a fascinating book called “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek. I picked up the book after watching Sinek’s video on TED.com about the importance of knowing why we do what we do. Sinek says that any person or organization can explain what they do; some can explain how they are different or better; but very few can articulate why. “Why” is not about money or profit or any other result. “Why” is the thing that inspires us and inspires those around us.

While many of Sinek’s concepts are meant to the marketplace (he uses Apple and Costco as examples of companies that understand their “why”), I found a lot of directly applicable ideas for the church. For example, Sinek says there are two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it. The church has certainly made ample use of both these methods! Fear, guilt and obligation are strong motivators for church giving and participation. But what we should be seeking to do is inspire people to live out their faith.

How do we do that? We start with “why.” Sinek says a lot of organizations get this backwards. They say, “We build widgets. We use the highest quality parts. Our widgets do good things that will help you. Buy our widgets.” Instead, organizations should start with the why: “Are you a person who likes to make a difference? Our widgets will help you do that.”

Sinek uses a great example to illustrate this point. Several years ago, two companies came out with a revolutionary product: a small devices that could store a large amount of music for portable listening. One company, Creative Labs, advertised their product as “a 5G MP3 player.” The other company, Apple, said their device, called an iPod, let you “put 1000 songs in your pocket.” Guess which company’s product sold more?

What does this have to do with church? Everything. At Crestwood, we do a lot of things that hopefully help people connect with God and with each other, as well as put their faith into action. We worship, we study, we pray, we have fellowship dinners, we host small groups, we feed and shelter the homeless. Those all answer the questions “What do we do?” and “How do we do it?” But WHY do we do it? What’s the “Why” behind all of our programs and activities?

The quick answer is “Jesus Christ.” That’s always a safe answer for any question asked in church! We do what we do as a response of gratitude for what Christ as done for us, and as a way of helping others experience a life-giving relationship with Christ. That’s the official answer I would give. But if I were to simplify it and make it sound less “churchy,” I would say this: We are working for something bigger than ourselves. We do what we do in order to have an impact on Lexington much greater than any of us could do alone. My hope and prayer is that we are not just working on something, but working toward something. That’s what inspires me each day to do my job and follow my call.

But that’s me. I’d like to hear from YOU! What inspires you to live out your faith? How would you articulate the “Why” behind what we do here at Crestwood? What is something that, if the church offered it, you would raise your hand and jump up and down to be part of it? We have a huge task in front of us: to be the hands and feet of God in this world. Can we really do that? You may think we can, or you may think we can’t. Either way, you’re right.

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