now that we’ve found love what are we gonna do … with it?

I’ve been exploring the interplay between the companies that have piqued my interest in the last year or so, and my work in identity formation in my churchy role (pastor). Then a tune kept running through my head, “Now that we’ve found love what are we gonna do …?” Feel free to bop your head around as you read further.

The companies and web sites in my “ideas I love” section don’t seem to have a common focus. One’s a design consultancy, one’s a biz magazine offshoot, one’s a social media outlet, one’s a brand/identity co, and one’s a purveyor of fine language learning programs.

But it seems to me that these and other companies have “found the love” and have also figured out in beautiful ways what to do with it. They are “Designful Companies,” in the words of Marty Neumeier (thanks, Geno).

Widgets come and go, but love is the killer ap (I might have heard that somewhere before.) These companies sell something of value and get $$ in return, but they offer something more — the realization that whatever they offer is part of someone’s larger story — the trip to Argentina they want to take, or the love of a grand party that led to purchasing the flower shop in the first place — these companies have the love within, and share the love with those with whom they work. They invite people to discover “experiences that rivet minds and run away with hearts.” 

This is not just the kind of hope-ey drivel spewed out in the years before the .com implosion. This is good business.

I’m realizing, too, that I have a role in this world. Sometimes, in my marketing work, it feels as if I’m just doing the nuts and bolts – a mailer here, a logo there, a brochure over there — and in my churchy work, it’s easy to get consumed with minutia. 

But I’ve also been helping people see not just “We’re members (whatever that means) of Church X,” but that the joy a person finds in interacting with moms and dads on the sideline at the kids soccer game is their role in the Jesus movement. Or finding the fun in helping an electrician express their passion for lighting design through the image people see on the side of their vans.

Love is the killer ap. If you’ve found it, now what?

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womm

I’m getting pretty interested in word of mouth marketing, especially BrainsOnFire’s take on it. Creating movements rather than ad campaigns, encouraging fans (regular people) rather than “influencers.” I actually did a sermon based on BOF’s Fan Cycle, but developed it into the Disciple Cycle. Here’s the cycle: Participation / Evangelism / Ownership  then the thang, of course, loops around so a fan, or disciple is always engaged.

More to be said. I want to soak in all that I can about WOMM because it’s where I’m headed next, I can feel it.

ode to Phoenix

Here’s a teensy bit from a piece I’m working on, hopefully to be published in Dreamseeker Magazine.

It’s about nostalgia and dislocation, about being a child of the southwest living on the east coast. Let me know what you think:

I’m sure the sun bore down on the water, refracting like a crystal charm dangling from somebody’s rearview mirror. It was the Valley of the Sun, so what the sun was doing was a foregone conclusion. But I don’t remember really.

Phoenix in those days was hot, yet languid, on its way to being something grandiose and sprawling, spilling out of nowhere onto the receptive desert, over the dry river beds, around chalky-pink mountains, drowning a swath of cholla, saguaro, and prickly pear cactus. The desert will surely drink it back up someday, but the spill is in stop – frame right now, and we were even closer to the beginning of the film loop back then. Things were starting to get out of hand, but it was still a sleepy town of maybe 800,000 souls, depending how broadly you defined “metro Phoenix” – did Chandler count? How about Buckeye? The boom started in the raging days of automobile monoculture, so human scale got hosed. We became creatures of endless strip malls and mile after mile of subdivision housing. We were a puddle not yet stagnant, teeming with life.

Ahh, memories. Hopefully the whole shebang will appear in print and online in the next few months. I’ll keep you posted.

Jim and Casper

The spiritual formation (ok, fine, sunday school) class I’m a part of will soon be looking at the book Jim and Casper Go to Church. Jim is a friend of mine from a while back, and I’m looking forward to exploring this stuff.

What the book boils down to is the question: How should Christians interact with the culture around us without making people want to throw mildly offensive objects at us?

Here’s a couple of handy charts I worked up a few years back that get at what I hope is turning into a shift in attitudes and actions among people who are theoretically fans of Jesus and what he stands for. These are adapted from some work done by another Jim – Amstutz, who, I think, adapted them from some work Alan Roxburgh was doing. Anyway,

It’s a shift from this:

gospelchurchculturep1

TO THIS:

gospelchurchculturep2

Jim and Casper (a Christian and an Atheist) go to various churches around north america, and basically look at if and how the churches are making this kind of shift. Should be fun stuff.

thrilled about Obama

People often ask me, Craig, why are you so excited about Barack Obama’s presidency? Actually no one has asked me that, but I’m gonna tell you anyway, in bullet-pointed glory.

  • Black Prez. – I’m not going to underestimate the symbolic/psychological/spiritual healing power of having a black president. Not that America’s original sin is erased by this act. I just heard a curator at an African American history museum ponder–as he makes a point of touching, each day, a shackle that bound one of his forebears on a slave ship–that African-Americans started out in this country (from the perspective of those in power) as non-human. How does such a wound heal? But a resounding victory for the highest office in the land is, to be understated, something.
  • Smartest guy in the room. Barack seems to have brainiac intelligence and emotional intelligence in no small supply. Even better, he’s not afraid to surround himself with other really smart people. Thank God the thought process is once again welcomed into the White House.
  • Oratory: Obama was blasted in the primaries and general election as all word and no substance. But really inspiring words — they inspire people! From real presidents like Lincoln and FDR (and I’ll even give a begrudging nod to Reagan) to the really great speeches written by Sorkin and channelled by Martin Sheen in The West Wing (those were some great speeches) — people respond to this — not just in rapturous adoration, but in caches of trust and goodwill and (wait for it) hope. Interestingly, the great orators tend to make good on at least the spirit of their big ideas. We’ll have to wait and see, but good words are a good place to start.
  • Tech-savvy: This is kind of an offshoot of smartest guy in the room, but he’s done a great job of connecting with me through newish technology (though he didn’t text me.) I know the e-mails I got with his name on the other end weren’t really from him, but those e-mails kept me in touch with the campaign, searching YouTube/CNN etc for more information, and got me at least thinking about who in my neighborhood was on the same page as me politically.

That’s all for now. There are challenges ahead, and there’s no telling how the realities of the Presidency will square with candidate Obama. I’m wishing him the best (and Mr. President, if you need another speech writer …)