The “I Am ______” series continues but something’s different this time. In the past it has been people from the Bible, I am Paul, Mary, Thomas, Samuel, Peter, Adam, Judas, The Rich Young Ruler but this time it appears that I am a soda pop. Some of you may be thinking that your limited knowledge of biblical languages has excluded you from being a part of a small group of biblical scholars and therefore a carefully kept secret that Coca- Cola™ is a name in the original Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic scrolls that somehow is lost when translated into English. Let me assure you I am no scholar nor do I have inside information about some type of biblical connection to the name Coca- Cola™ all I know is I am Coca- Cola™.
1985 was not a good vintage for Coca- Cola™.
In response to a decrease in market share the make-up of Coca- Cola™ was reformulated to more resemble what was perceived as a threat to future sales, Pepsi™. It was a success for a short time with an increase in sales as predicted but it wasn’t long before the backlash started. They were messing with something that was fine the way it was to attract those who weren’t interested in it in the first place. The diehard fans of Pepsi™ weren’t going to move over to the New Coke™ and the diehard fans of the original Coca- Cola™ weren’t happy with it either. I am Coca- Cola™.
The Attraction Model years have not been a good vintage for the church.
In response to a decrease in
market share attendance
the make-up message of the church
was reformulated to more resemble what was perceived as a threat to future
sales attendance, the attractive messages of worldly living. It was and, in
some places still is a success with an increase in sales in attendance
as predicted but it wasn’t long before the backlash started. They were messing
with something that was fine the way it was to attract those who weren’t
interested in it in the first place. The diehard fans of worldly living weren’t going to move over to the new
more attractive version of church and the diehard fans of the original church
weren’t happy with it either. I am and many churches are, Coca- Cola™.
Changing the main ingredients to attract people only works if the ingredients are wrong.
The problem isn’t change. If the original Coca- Cola™ tasted bad, not as a matter of personal preference but truly tasted bad, it would need to be changed. It turns out the taste wasn’t the reason market shares were down but rather the brand needed to be better represented to the public. The attention garnered by the reintroduction of Coca- Cola™ under the name Coca- Cola Classic™ later the same year that the New Coke™ was introduced, breathed new life into the same old product. I am and churches are tempted to be the New Coke™ early 1985 when they need to be the Coca-Cola Classic™ of late 1985, same ingredients, new packaging.
The recipe stays the same it’s the way we communicate that needs to change.
Millennials don’t need a low calorie form of Christianity. Gen X and Baby Boomers don’t need a sweeter Christianity with new ingredients or at least new amounts of each ingredient. Each generation may need Christianity expressed in new ways with new music, language and styles of communication but the main thing is still the main thing. The ingredients and the importance of each ingredient does not change in an attempt to wow the world because we are worried that our market share is slipping.
I have no problem dumping the Christianise of the generation before or retranslating the Bible into a language that is more representative of the day. I have no problem with stylistic changes in music and messaging. To me the problem only exists when our desire to reach the world leads to a change of message to suit the world. When our worry about not being the “in thing” or the accepted belief system leads us to franticly look for a way to make the message like the competing message and our culture like the culture of this world. Out of fear I am New Coke™ when I need to be Coca-Cola Classic™.
Christianity has all it needs in the pages of the Bible. We can change how we communicate to each generation but we can never change what we communicate – the recipe stays the same even if the packaging changes.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 (NIV)