Will 801South Try To Be Elevation: Why?

A few years ago, I watched a Ted talk; which included scientific research finally validating my annoying curiosity. I have been known to over-ask a one word question: “Why?” and I was now vindicated from all those who label me as the toddler who never grew up. Continually asking why can be incredibly annoying to those who just want to produce, who want to have something tangible quickly, who simply want to do anything to fill time or space. But Simon Sinek explains why the most inspirational and, consequently, successful organizations are those who start with “why.” Simon wants us to answer the following questions: What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why do you exist? Why should anyone care? He also explains that people don’t buy what you do. Instead, they buy why you do what you do.

The established church hates these questions, because we think the answers are obvious and a given. But they are not. We currently live in a culture that does not know our purpose, our cause, our beliefs, nor why they should even care. And we should not expect anyone to buy what we are selling with blind consent. This makes our work more difficult, but also makes our work more rewarding and most relevant to the world we are called to reach, teach, and serve.

To name one real world example, Hewlett Packard (HP) learned this lesson the hard way back in 2011. A year earlier, Apple Computers had released the iPad (on which many of you are probably reading this post) and created an entirely new segment in the electronic device market. No one knew they needed an iPad until they were released, but all of a sudden, they were everywhere. In developing the iPad, Apple had worked its way through the “Golden Circle” of starting with “why,” which informs the process of “how” and ultimately manifests as the “what.” Most people on the outside only get to see the “what” (the final product released to the public). HP, however, saw the money rolling in to Apple’s coffers and immediately wanted to emulate this new product. The company hurriedly produced a very sub par product, rushed it out the door, and (this is what really gets me) had the moxie to charge the same price for the TouchPad (I know, very original) as what Apple was charging for the iPad ($499-$599). To make a long story short, HP eventually relented, instructing all of its distributors to conduct a fire sale, selling the devices for as little as $99. I bought one. But I use an iPad.

HP lost (money, respect, influence) because they took a short cut in trying to be, or at least copy, someone else. Shortly before his death, Steve Jobs even commented in his only authorized biography that he was saddened by HP’s failure, because it was Bill Hewlett himself who first inspired and supported Jobs in his consumer electronic endeavors at an early age. Jobs knew that this botch did not exemplify the original heart of the company.

This all leads me to another answer to the question as to why 801South will not try to be Elevation Church; which has several campuses around Charlotte. (To be honest, I feel a little silly even answering the question, but I also understand that for many in the Matthews area, Elevation might provide the best frame of reference for the new ministry). Elevation has gone through the hard work of answering “why?” for their ministry. For a church, this includes not just the questions mentioned earlier (cause, purpose, belief), but also understanding our identity, our passions, our strengths, the needs and passions of our “audience,” and discerning that to which God is calling us specifically. To simply grab the “what” of Elevation and try to run with it will more than likely be as much a debacle as that of HP’s Touchpad. We cannot afford to attempt a shortcut. We must put in the hard work from the beginning.

Any takers?

Will 801South Try To Be Elevation: Competition

In conversation around our new ministry initiative, Elevation Church continues to surface. In fact, one of the publicly asked questions is, “Are we trying to be Elevation?” Answer: No. Done. Post blog.

It could be that simple, but I am big on understanding thought processes. Short, easy answers bother me. I have to know why. Therefore, I am writing a handful of articles explaining four keys reasons why I believe 801South will fail miserably if we simply try to copy Elevation (or any other organization).

Today’s topic is competition.

Despite the gorgeous weather, I headed to the gym yesterday morning to get my sweat on indoors. I often choose the treadmill over pounding the pavement because I look a little silly holding my iPad out in front of me while running around the neighborhood as I try to catch up on some reading while working out. I am not currently training for an event so I have no set routine or goals in mind. Instead, I typically run between 25 and 30 minutes followed by some pushups (pretending to incorporate strength training in my routine). As I was getting started on this particular morning, another guy hopped on a treadmill two machines down (of course you have to leave one in between to provide adequate “man space,” similar to leaving one urinal between you and the other guy in a public restroom). As we both started our workout program, I made a decision: I’m going to run as long as he runs.

After running steadily for what seemed like a long time (I intentionally cover up the display with my iPad to remove the temptation of staring at the time or distance) and while beginning to feel that tightness in my chest; which comes from not being in the best shape, I had an alarming thought: What if he is thinking the same thing?!? Here we go. At least on my part, it was a competition. Neither one of us ever looked at each other. Rather, we kept our gaze straight ahead and ground it out. All of a sudden, I was in competition with another athlete.

There is healthy competition and also unhealthy competition in life, which includes church. Unhealthy competition occurs when one local church thinks and, therefore, operates as though it is in competition against another local church. This competition results is jealousy, paranoia, substituting misconception for reality, a loss of focus, cynicism, and more. Similarly, if I were in competition against the man on the other treadmill, rather than working hard and keeping my eyes forward, I would have focused on him the whole run while wasting energy thinking of ways to derail his workout so that only I would benefit.

Alternately, to be in competition with another church can be very helpful toward our cause and often results in focus, guidance, discernment, and even inspiration. It will serve us well to be in competition with Elevation Church against this world and its prince. Although there will be differences (more on these differences in later posts) 801South and Elevation will both be on the same team and the same mission: to make much of Christ as we use new expressions of the Gospel to make and equip disciples of Jesus.

Now back to the gym. Finally, the other guy began to slow his tool of torture (I had decided that I would give my life on that treadmill before quitting first). In competing with the other runner, I ran for almost 4.5 miles. Because of being in competition with a fellow athlete, my workout was expanded by 50% and, therefore, I burned that many more calories and gained that much more capacity for endurance, along with other benefits. I could have quit after 20 minutes and glanced at him with a jealousy manifesting as bitter pessimism while making excuses as to why he is “wrong” and I am “right.” Instead, I chose to be inspired by his drive, and consequently benefitted from it.

Do you see the distinction between being in competition with vs being in competition against? How can making this slight change in the way we think help you better understand your relationship to others with whom you may be working toward a similar end?