The below is an excerpt from Seth Godin’s post the dead zone of slick.

There was a terrific duo playing live music at the farmer’s market the other day. They were well-rehearsed, enthusiastic and really good. Being a patron of the arts, I bought a CD.

I hated it.

I’ve thought a lot about what turned me off, and I think it’s the curve above.

Faced with the excitement of making a CD and all the knobs and dials, they overproduced the record. They went from being two real guys playing authentic music, live and for free, and became a multi-tracked quartet in search of a professional sound. And they ended up in the dead zone. Not enough gloss to be slick, too much to be real.

BINGO. Seth gets it.
Seth, as is his style, precisely and briefly puts in words and a graph what many of us often feel about church.

“Not enough gloss to be slick, too much to be real.”

A complaint I often heard in college ministry was that church was too slick, whether it was their home church where I pastored, the church down the road, or the one they grew up in. It’s a complaint that is hard to describe, but we all know what everyone means when they express it.

It’s that fine line between authenticity and being overproduced. Not everyone likes the duo on acoustic guitars leading worship, but not everyone is into the eight musicians on stage with lights glaring and moving images behind them either.

I’m someone who so desires authenticity in our churches and community, but I also want us to think through how we do things as well and do them with a sense of integrity, hard work and passion.

Too Slick

If I had a choice, I would usually prefer the “not slick” versus “slick” everyday of the week.

My 10 Reasons of how you know when is church too slick?

  1. When no one else is allowed on stage/upfront on Sunday, but the paid clergy/staff.

  2. No one is allowed to share or preach but the handful of ordained staff, etc.

  3. Everything is on perfect cue that when there is a mishap it becomes a big issue to the staff or congregation.

  4. When children (crying, talking, walking around) have no place in church, are given dirty looks, or ushered out.

  5. The service is broken down into minute detail…minute by minute. No room for the Spirit to move as some say.

  6. Professionalism reigns (oratory skills, musicianship). There is a difference between putting “capable” people up front, and allowing only the best of the best or professionals to do everything.

  7. When a staff meeting becomes the place where the service is dissected, but very little time is given to prayer, theological reflection or why we do the things we do.

  8. When the pastor or band/worship leader carries with them superstar status that if they weren’t up front on a Sunday people might choose not to attend or bring their friends.

  9. When those up front reflect only a segment of the population of the church (usually the pastor’s demographic or circle of friends), and there is no room to try things differently, with different people.

  10. When people’s reflection upon the service was more about the technicalities, than it was about the content.


When is church too slick?

What makes church authentic?