Bring Back Personality Driven Churches

Learn how to master the art of Culture Creation for growth in your church. After almost 20 years in full time ministry, Dave Gilpin gets angry at the colour that dominates the Christian sky-line…’beige’.

There is a divine spark inside each of us! Don’t quote me on this – it’s a quote from ‘Bruce Almighty’. Bruce had just spent a disastrous time of his life trying to be what he wasn’t. Bruce (played by Jim Carey) was ‘called’ to be the ‘light entertainment’ correspondent of the nightly newscast, yet in his insecurity, wanted to be seen in a more serious light.

His quest for anchorman led to horrible consequences for the entire world! God (played by Morgan Freeman) had a heart to heart with Bruce and revealed to him that deep within him lay a divine spark. Bruce’s was to bring laughter and happiness to the world. He ‘saw the light’ and set about to be himself – content, funny and furious!

If Abba reunited, they’d make trillions, yet Bjorn Again, the Aussie Abba tribute band, sing better, play better and look younger . yet only make thousands. Why is that? It’s the power of originality.

It’s the same for you and your church. Why would the devil spend time undermining your incredible God given gift of personality? Why do we admonish a ‘cell driven’ church, a ‘purpose driven’ church, a ‘passionately driven’ church, yet vilify a ‘personality driven’ church? Why is a church allowed to be led by strong leadership but not strong charisma? Who made charisma so superficial and so ‘American’? Is there a power at work to weaken the power that’s generated where originality abounds? (Please switch on the Jaws theme tune now!)

The funny thing about ministers is that they often change personalities upon entering the pulpit. It’s a strange morphing that I’ve been guilty of many times over. What results is a pale imitation of someone else’s divine spark.

So much of our life owes its power to the power of originality. Take faith for example. Faith comes by an original word from God. You can’t just repeat a verse from the Bible and then try to believe it. Either you believe it or you don’t believe it. You can’t make it up. When God speaks, faith is ignited. It’s not borrowed faith nor humanly generated. It doesn’t come through the laying on of hands. It comes via the power of originality ignited. It’s not borrowed faith nor humanly generated. It doesn’t come through the laying on of hands. It comes via the power of originality.

The gifts of the Spirit also operate on the strength of originality. They express themselves with unique words for a unique season and plan. And they do it through personality. It’s also a funny thing to see what happens when many people prophesy. Their voice changes, their manner changes and for whatever intents and purposes, they become a ‘different’ person. Who devalued and disfigured the vessel through which the gifts would operate?

Express Yourself

Inside each of us is a unique gift – it’s the way you’re wired – each of us have different wiring that leads to different points of expression. It’s true that sin has distorted parts of the real us but it’s also important never to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

As a child I spent many long hours trying to win national competitions in science, Lego, writing and simply trying to be the first caller through to Melbourne’s premier radio station, time and time again. I often won because I had pre-dialled every number bar the last. As a teenager I spent many a long hour inventing ways to break into concerts and socials. Three times I gained entry to see Elton John and each time ticketless. Now, everything I’ve just mentioned deals with a gift (some of you would find that hard to believe!) The problem was not the gift, it was the application of the gift. It was an awesome entrepreneurial gift at work but when it came to breaking in to concerts it was used for all the wrong outcomes.

Upon salvation I adopted a more conservative approach to life contrary to who I was. I ran from the past with disdain, not just for what I used to do but for who I used to be. In my desire for holiness I not only abandoned the bathwater but the baby as well. I became ‘beige’. And that’s where the story begins and ends – churches without colour, charisma, curiosity and creativity squeezed into the mould of religious conservatism or wholesale impersonation (when I get older I’ll get an opinion!)

Train spotting is a quirky British pastime! Wrapped up in their trench coats and coke bottle glasses we can’t think of anyone or anything more ‘boring’. Sure a TV show about trains may not be prime time, but a programme about train spotters could very well be prime time. Why? BECAUSE train spotters have charisma! There is a unique energy that drives them to spend their hours watching out for trains. That energy is the power of originality at work through the letting loose of the true genius of personality. It’s always captivating. There’s no such thing as a boring person if they’re being true to themselves. It’s the same with your church! You can’t say that the rocky mountains are more riveting than the outback of Australia. You can’t say the Welsh valleys are more beautiful than the wetlands of Florida. Each is unique, each has a wonder, and each is captivating.

Your personality is like that. And the true personality of your church is like that. It’s captivating and increasingly attractive the truer you are to it.

It’s how God designed everyone to be. It’s time to hoist it up and revel in this unique attraction called personality.

Fractures of Insecurity
How much of your ministry is fashioned by fear itself? Sometimes we’re afraid of really being ourselves for fear of losing the elderly or losing the young.We fear ‘exclusivity’.
The ‘lightweight’ sanguine type personality tries to become a heavyweight intellectual to appease the more serious church member. The ‘teacher type’ personality tries to become hip to reach the young people (now it’s never ever hip to try to be hip). It’s right to do all we can to bring all the people with us and it’s right to become ‘all things to all men’ but that is a truth that should never be driven by fear. It fits only in the realm of sacrifice and love, adjustment and balance not fear. You’ve got to be yourself to lay it down. You can’t give up what you don’t possess.

The Secular Vs The Spiritual
We carry the legacy of centuries of religion. The great divide between the spiritual and the secular still rules today. Our list is complete – the spiritual includes prayer, gifts, the word of God, fellowship, communion .. the secular includes work, watching TV, business opportunities, politics . and having a laugh (unless it’s a joke to do with a twist on the scriptures you naughty thing, you). Our lives, however, are not divided into the sacred and the secular. There are only two categories, the sacred and the carnal. Either you’re doing the will of the Father or you’re not. Money as well as prayer as well as personality are all gifts that can be used in both arenas. Both can be tools for a holy life or tools for an unholy life. To ‘seek first His kingdom’ is not advice that segregates the spiritual from the secular. It’s a verse that segregates the eternal from the temperal. It also speaks of heavenly priorities. To ‘seek first His kingdom’ is not to leave our quest for finance filed under ‘s’ for secular or ‘c’ for carnal but to dedicate and submit our quest to the building of His kingdom. Our personality is the same. It is to be dedicated to our quest to build the kingdom. It’s not secular it’s sacred.

The Re-invention

All of our personalities have been marred, suppressed and distorted by sin. Our redemption is not only of our spirits but also of our minds and souls, as well as our bodies (culminating in our resurrected form). Jesus died to redeem your soul that’s everything that makes you you. His vision is to free your soul from inferiority, insecurity, insignificance and insincerity and restore you to the wholeness and fullness of the blueprint that God held for you before the world began. Be delivered today and allow the true colours of your God given personality to radiate and impregnate the world around you. It’s time to replace ‘grey’ with iridescent purple, incandescent pink, subtle shades of turquoise and the crusty browns of the earth. You are magnificent when redeemed.

The End

Each of us and each of our churches represents the rich and diverse variety that’s found in God’s creation everywhere. Together we make the full expression of Christ. God’s world on God’s earth. No more imitation or impersonation. No more competition

Finally, in church life and in life itself you can’t help but take on the characteristics of those you admire and spend time with. A son, however, is never a clone of his father.We will all be influenced by those we admire, but in the process, let’s never disown one of the greatest powers that we have in our possession it’s the power of originality. It’s time now to let the divine SPARK!

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