001…Licensed to…Steal?

Bond…James Bond. You know – the British secret agent with the 00 designation, licensed to kill.

That was only in Ian Flemings spy novels from the 50s, translated into the super successful movie series that started in 1962 and is still cranking out a movie every few years.

There is another license that church leaders ought to consider – a license to “steal” other churches stuff. Let me explain…

I heard it first while attending a conference at Saddleback in the early 90’s – Rick Warren told the audience, “If my bullet fits your gun, then shoot it.” Tim Stevens, Executive Pastor at Granger Community Church, and writing in his book “Simply Strategic Stuff,”  puts it this way: “Visit other churches and steal their stuff,” and “Don’t worry about being original.”

This doesn’t mean you need to turn your brain off and blindly copy every innovative and creative element from churches that are having success. If you do just that, you will probably – no, certainly – be unhappy with the results. But there is a way to learn from others, framed nicely in this phrase:

Learn all you can about the principles from others, but then apply them in the context of your own setting and organization.

We need to figure out the best way we can to communicate the power of God’s Word to an increasingly skeptical potential audience. If that means hopping in a car with your leadership team and driving across town (or across the country) to visit and learn from another church – then do it. There are lots of churches (of all sizes) across the countries who have already figured out how to be effective in an area that you want to know more about. Learn from them! You can be innovative without being original.

Sometimes the most innovative idea for your church is something that was borrowed from somewhere or someone else. Stevens says that “most of our ideas come from taking someone else’s idea and making it work for us. We Grangerize it. That is, we make it work for our culture, and that is okay with us. If we can use the idea to impact our community, why does it matter if it is an already-been-used idea from LifeChurch or Willow Creek. Most churches need to get over themselves and just figure out what works.”

Of course, I’m writing this with a little tongue-in-cheek. If you quote from a message or book, give credit to the author. If you reprint published material or copy something, get permission first.

Just don’t think you have to dream up everything you want to do yourself.

Be the “secret agent” you’ve always wanted to be look for ideas and practices that are working somewhere else.

Learn what and why, and then apply the principles at your place.

Who knows – you may even get a YouTube video made out of your “theft.”








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