As consumers we know that beautiful packaging does not guarantee the quality of the product inside. The photo on the box often looks much better than the content. On the other hand, with the rise of store brands, we know that good stuff can be found in very plain packages.
Visually stunning packaging is done because it sells product. Good products will sell better with attractive packaging. Effort needs to be extended toward development of both.
This morning, I was thinking about three areas to apply this idea. The first is on an individual level, the second is with regard to web media and arena for application is the Church.
One of Jesus’ criticisms of the Pharisees was that their behavior did not match how their public appearance. In Matthew 23, there is a long discourse given by Jesus in which he condemns the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. He says of them in 23:3, “they preach, but do not practice.” Later, in verse 5, he says, “they do all their deeds to be seen by others.” From this, we get the proverbs that we should practice what we preach, or we should walk what we talk. This speaks to personal integrity, something that we should all strive for.
Recently, I started paying more attention to site design as I looked around on the internet. I found some web sites that were visually stunning but lacked compelling content. I found some other sites that had great material but the site layout made it difficult to navigate or the format hindered the reading. It seems to me that there needs to be a balance struck between the form and the content. It is not an either/or decision, both the form and the content must be considered. Good content must be presented in a form that is both functional and pleasant for effective communication to take place.
Impressive buildings, talented musicians and diverse programs are all for naught if they are devoid of solid, Biblical teaching. Paul warned Timothy this in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 where he writes,
1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
It is possible to have a beautiful presentation that is devoid of content. The key phrase in the Scripture above is “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” If the function of the church is not based on Scripture and aimed at deepening relationships with God and each other. There is no power in the congregation.
On the other hand, we need to structure the local church body so that it is accessible to the people in the community. The “packaging” should not deter someone from participating in the church. The music, style of dress, decor of the building, etc. should be within the “bell curve” of the surrounding society. If people are to be offended, let them be offended by the gospel message, not how it is presented.
The word that seems to run all through this is integrity, having our individual or corporate behavior match what we claim to believe. I see two basic steps to living in integrity:
- Discover a sense of purpose. Ask yourself, why am I doing this thing?
- Continually assess if what I am doing helps me fulfill this purpose.
I heard someone say that the person who knows how to do something will almost always have a job, but he will work for the man who knows why it should be done. The “why” should be asked before the “how” question.
In what other areas do you see needing this balance?