If the name of your kids ministry comes from Northpoint, and your series graphics are downloaded from Lifechurch, and your mission statement is a slightly modified version of Saddleback’s, and your website is a template, then you don’t have a vision.

Too strong?


I’m not saying that it’s wrong to borrow anything from another church.  I am saying that building your whole church around everyone else’s stuff – all of these things used in COMBINATION with each other – might not be good.  It’s one thing to do a series or use a video from another church; it’s another to pirate their vision.  I’m not arguing that everything has to be original. I’m simply stating that perhaps EVERYTHING shouldn’t be borrowed.


19 comments so far

  1. […] posted this over at “Behind The Leaf”: If the name of your kids ministry comes from Northpoint, and […]

  2. Rachel on

    Yes, probably too strong. Especially considering your upcoming series come from Elevation Church. Yes, you may have adapted it to fit your church, but it still isn’t unique to you. I wouldn’t say someone doesn’t have vision. Perhaps they have a vision to reach people and love people. What is wrong with trying to reach people, and using/utilizing/making something yours that someone originally came up with? Those things you mentioned are all vehicles to USE to help people love God and love others. That’s vision (help people love God and love others), the things you mentioned aren’t vision they are tools to get to the vision. Why can’t we all share resources? Its not about building your church its about building God’s Kingdom. So what if someone across the country comes up with something that hits you and you want to use it. We are all part of the same team same church.
    I can kinda see where you are going, but to answer your question…yes, maybe too strong.

    As Steven Furtick said recently in his blog;
    “(Nothing is original with you, either. Get over it.)
    Inspiration without Internalization=Imitation
    Inspiration + Internalization=Impact”

    I love your sight and I definitely love your insight. We are blessed to be able to see what you and your church are doing. And I have no problem if you delete this reply. The last thing the world needs to see is the church arguing.

  3. Rachel on

    Oh, one more thing. Would you say the same about church bands who play songs that they don’t write? Or, churches who allow bands to play songs that they don’t write?

  4. Michael on

    I’m not saying that it’s wrong to borrow anything from another church. We all do that all the time. LifeChurch just started a series (with permission) that Northpoint recently finished. And as you point out, the name of our February series that goes through the first half of the book of Acts came from Elevation’s capital campaign name.

    I was simply saying that building your whole church around everyone else’s stuff – all of these things used in COMBINATION with each other – probably means that you’re copying too many things outright. It’s not a big deal to use a website template or get inspiration from a kids name from another church, but if everything in your church comes from someone else’s church, then maybe there’s something wrong. It’s one thing to do a series or use a video from another church; it’s another to pirate their vision.

  5. Michael on

    To the song question, I would agree that using other people’s songs is not original and not inappropriate.

    Again, perhaps I could clarify the original post, because I’m not arguing that everything has to be original. I’m simply stating that perhaps EVERYTHING shouldn’t be borrowed.

  6. Ben on

    I wholeheartedly agree with you. Great stuff Michael.

  7. Johnny on

    I appreciate your blog and the open book approach to ministry…. which is why I’m surprised by such a closed minded post. Rachel, nice observations. Surely, we can do better than this… at least you have until now.

  8. Patrick Sievert on

    I don’t think anybody borrows EVERYTHING. Even if you borrow 99%, there’s still that 1%.

    Whether or not it’s right to borrow “everything”, I won’t say, but I wouldn’t say it means you don’t have vision.

    Maybe your vision is to “take the best of what other churches do and use that to reach people in my community!”

    Maybe not the most respectable vision, but it’s still vision.

  9. Jason Curlee on

    I think I love the spirit of what you are trying to say Michael…

    I feel you are saying dig down, internalize, then externalize what you do yourself. There are things you will adopt and adapt. But the essence should come from what God is screaming in your heart.

    I do agree your post comes off as strong…I would bet if we broke down everyone’s ministry we would see a little of this from one or from another. If you tracked it all it originated from someone or something.

  10. Ken Row on

    Not too strong.

    If you’re going to take the trouble to say it in a forum like this, say it full strength.

    If you wimp out, your point will get lost.

  11. Rachel on

    I agree totally with your update. I also think that Steven nailed it in his blog.

  12. Brad on

    There is nothing new under the sun.

    If you see something, anything you like – DO IT BETTER!!!
    Be inspired and make it better!

  13. alex mclean on

    I too am an avid behind the leaf follower. And I don’t think it’s too strong. I just think we all internalize it differently.

    For me, I have to know that I am acting on vision that God places in my heart – not just using other people’s ideas because they worked in Atlanta or Oklahoma City, or anywhere. I think it’s good to study, listen, watch, borrow, be influenced, and even to copy at times – as long as it supports the vision that God is supplying in my heart.

  14. Shannon Greer on

    Not too strong man. I think you’re absolutely right. If I understand your post, your saying that the church that is always using other people’s material isn’t really leaving room for God to use the creativity He’s placed within that local church. Sure, we all “use” “borrow” or “adapt” from others, but if that’s all you do, and you never allow God to use your giftings and talents, then you’re selling yourself short.
    I’m trackin with ya man!!!!

  15. worshipcity on

    As a new Leaf reader I’m assuming this was intended to provoke thought and discussion. It is strong but strong words make us think. As a newbie church staffer I think I agree with your updated comment. In a perfect situation we would want to be original and creative in all things that we do but it, unfortunately can’t happen. Time, resources, availability, capability, ignorance, etc. get in the way. I think regardless though, much of what the church does that is effective comes from it’s people and that’s not something that’s able to be copied or duplicated. In striving for authenticity in who you are and what you feel God’s calling is for your church looks alot like XYZ church isn’t necessarily a bad thing because you are a different group of people. I agree (if this is what your saying) that if we simply say, “Ahh I think we’ll take Kids Ministry from Successful Church A, Youth Ministry from Successful Church B, Adult Ministry from Successful Church C, and the look of Young Hipster Church. Check please!” That’s a bad approach.

  16. Michael on

    @ worshipcity: exactly.

    @ alex: right on, man. there’s nothing wrong with borrowing something or being inspired by something, but God needs to call you in the first place.

    @ jason: i did want to say it strong, because I’m such a believer in the fact that God has to call and something has to well up. When I look at the leaders in the Bible, it began with a call.

  17. Daisy on

    In Proverbs 29:18 it says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish:…” Sometimes that Vision has to include what someone else has done. I doubt there is anyone who does the Lord’s work that has never used another person’s sermon, idea, or whatever.

    With so many others doing the Lord’s work, there are so many ideas that are good and can be borrowed.

  18. […] Vision […]

  19. Scott Pollard on

    I agree with Michael. I am starting to see church planters who seem to copy and paste everthing they do from someone elses ministry into their own. The problem is that they are not Michael L. or Andy Stanley, or Shawn Lovejoy, and thank God they’re not like Gary Lamb 🙂 It’s OK to draw inspiration from other people but the end product has to reflect who you are and more importantly it has to reflect who God wants you to reach.

    For example: We really liked the badges that the Leaf uses for it’s different volunteer ministries. We especially liked the one word descriptions. We could have simply duplicated them and gone on. Instead we took the simplistic design and added our own graphics and style to it. It took us almost 2 hours just to come up with a tech badge design that fits Journey Chattanooga. We now have somethong inspired by what we saw at the Leaf but it is unique to us.

    It takes TIME and TALENT to make things your own and that’s where I think a lot of planters take shortcuts because they don’t have enough resources.

    We are planning on visiting the Leaf this Sunday to see what other ideas we can “steal”

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