We follow those who lead, not for them, but for ourselves. (Simon Sinek)
In his TED talk Simon Sinek tells why the ‘why’ is important. Much more important than the ‘what’ or the ‘how’.
I work for a Church. I think my job is about the ‘why’ but very often it has little to do with ‘why’ and much more to do with ‘how’ and ‘what’.
Over the past 20 years the church in the West has declined. It’s a long and sad story that has been told often. In response to that story people have come up with plans, strategies and programmes. You’ve probably heard them all.
‘If we do this people will come’.
Sounds like ‘Field of Dreams’ doesn’t it? Except it doesn’t. Not quite. In the movie ‘Field of Dreams’ Ray builds a baseball diamond in his back yard against everyone’s advice. He goes on his journey to Fenway because he believes that he will find something significant there. He builds the baseball diamond so he can share what he believes. He doesn’t tell anyone what they should see, or how they can see it. Just that a bunch of dead baseball players seem to show up and play in his back yard baseball pitch.
Sinek thinks that ‘why’ is the golden question. I think he’s right.
People didn’t turn up to hear Dr King for him. They went for themselves. He didn’t talk to them about his plan, he talked about his dream.
Obama did the same. Remember the signs? HOPE.
The SNP did the same. ‘We believe in Scotland’. Relentlessly positive about what could be.
So what is the Church’s ‘why’?
People don’t follow Jesus because it will make their minister feel better. They don’t come to church to make the person who sits beside them feel better.
They follow because they believe. They follow because they believe that God’s grace and forgiveness will change their lives.
That’s not the story we tell. Our story is all about ‘how’ and ‘why’.
If you love God this is how you should behave.
You should love God because if you don’t you’ll go to hell.
That’s the story we tell.
We tell a story of joining a programme or a class or a group, not a story of lives and a world transformed. We tell a story where we apologise for being small or poor or not very good at this not of amazing things done by ordinary people helped by God.
We tell the story of Jesus like this:
“God sent Jesus to die on the cross because we are so terrible. Our sins are forgiven, but we need to earn that forgiveness over and over again because we are all still miserable sinners. Don’t do that. Don’t wear that. Don’t listen to that or love that person. Don’t have sex. Don’t have fun.”
Let’s contrast that with how Jesus asked people to follow Him…
“Follow me and your lives will be transformed.”
Nothing about Jesus invitation is about Him. It isn’t a command and it’s not even about Him. It’s about them.
I will make YOU different… Come with me and YOUR life will never be the same again.
Now, what is it you want me to do?
That’s not our story. That’s not the one we tell.
It should be.
But it’s not.
We explain the ‘how’ and the ‘what’. We call it theology or a sermon. We don’t tell people the ‘why’. Our ‘why’ is simple and strange and compelling and transforming.
God loves you.
Yes, even you.
Not just good people or straight people or white people or rich people or clever people or left footed people or any other label.
God loves YOU. He loves you so much that he sent his only son to die so that we don’t have to worry or be scared and so that we can live life free of guilt and shame and doubt and worry.
The ‘how’ and the ‘what’ are interesting. But the WHY… now that’s a story we should tell.
Update: Here’s the new Apple ad… If you don’t believe what Sinek is saying. Watch and see if they mention the ‘how’ or the ‘what’…
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zr1s_B0zqX0 if you’re using one of Apple’s flash free devices)
Not once… but you want a macbook, ipad, ipad mini, ipod or iphone, even though they never mention any of them by name, tell you how much they are or even where you can buy them.
That’s the power of ‘why’.