Authenticity isn’t just a “Millennial thing.” In fact, I’m technically not a Millennial – at 36 I’m a little past. (But, I’m a woman and I just shared my age. I’m being authentic here, people.) Authenticity is more about values and culture than it is about what a generation demands. Millennials may have shouted for authenticity louder than the rest, but all generations in your church are looking for it.
In Brené Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection, one of the opening chapters is, “Cultivating Authenticity – Letting Go of What People Think.” Brown shares, “Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”
For much of my life, authenticity was a hard choice, because I was raised in a church that emphasized rules and didn’t encourage people to share their true selves.
In the last decade, I’ve experienced how it looks when a church values authenticity. Seven years ago, my church did the now popular, but then unheard of, “Cardboard Testimonies.” In fact, the video from our service went viral, crashed the site and is still one of the most visited pages. What I love most about it is the vulnerability and courage of each person to show up and be authentic. I rewatched the video as I wrote this blog, and I was again moved to tears as my friends and neighbors crossed the stage and let go of what other people were thinking.
In an authentic church, you have the courage to be imperfect. You know that we are all both good and evil. You exercise compassion. You create a sense of belonging. You let one another fully feel joy and sorrow. You make room to be real. Authenticity is a choice.
In a few weeks at the Alignment Conference, my teammate Aimee and I will unpack how authenticity matters in your church. We’ll discuss how you can incorporate it into your worship service, your lobby, and your programs for all generations.
Join Lindsay Dudeck and Aimee Cottle at the Alignment Conference on October 21, 2014, at CCC Yellow Box in Naperville, IL. Register today!