Telling The Difference

During my morning stroll through bookmarks, blogrolls, and RSS streams, I came to this set of pictures of a 7-Eleven redecorated to match the Kwik-E-Mart from The Simpsons TV series (in preparation for the movie, I suppose). (Link via Jason.)

I post the link here because of the comments on this picture. “Gotsomeideas” says, “It would have been easy for them to screw up this promotion and make it unfunny, but from what I can tell from the pictures, they actually did a good job.” Bananatree responds, “Attention to detail is awesome.” Exactly. Most anyone who has watched a few minutes of The Simpsons could throw a few jokey signs into a convenience store and sit back; that would have met the Flickr commenters’ expectations of a wooden corporation lamely miming the brilliant cultural currents from which it’s hoping to draw cachet. That’s the self-appointed “funny” guy in the company repeating jokes from The Simpsons by the water cooler: thanks, I’d rather watch the show. Instead, the 7-Eleven people opted to pay attention to detail, to go with the painstaking composition that infuses such manic humor into The Simpsons — and people could tell. It makes a difference.

Now, let’s ask the embarrassing question. which is your church more like: the office funny guy repeating something that someone once thought was amusing, or the brilliantly subtle, detailed creation of a physical-world Kwik-E-Mart?

Much of the time, my rants about attention to detail and communicating carefully and responsibly and deliberately, are drowned out by a culture of casualness, spontaneity, free-wheelin’ yada yada yada. Hey, spontaneity and relaxation and freedom are good things, I approve of them. But attention to detail — by people who know what they’re doing — makes a difference, and viewers, visitors, congregants can tell (even if they can’t articulate the difference it makes). I didn’t see Diana Butler Bass when she passed through town (she was here only in father-daughter time), but it sounded as though she was saying similar things: that congregations grow not because you belong to the Single Correct Side of a theo-ideological schism, but because you realize that the work of living as a congregation, as a Body, requires care and attention to detail. People can tell the difference.

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