Thursday, April 16, 2009

Church Theft

Sigh... at it again. This time, the church we've been attending for nearly three years. Yes, intellectual property/copyright violation/theft. Once again, the entertainment industry* is the victim of a church's misunderstanding of homage or parody in an effort to be relevant. (*I know, "oh, boo, hoo.") This is a slight wording change from my 2004 post.

So, the TV show Mythbusters. I've only seen a few episodes, but at its most basic form, in each episode the show takes one or more common myths and tries to either prove or debunk it. At least one guy seems to often wear a white lab coat and goggles. They perform scientific tests and have a lot of fun and the two hosts play off each other like comedians. In the end, the myth is either BUSTED, PLAUSIBLE or CONFIRMED. (I'm relying on Wikipedia for some of the information because, like I've said, I've only seen a few episodes.) They get the myths from their staff as well as fans.

So how might one parody or pay homage to that show? Well, easy. Let's start with people. If the pastor is the straight man, you need the other character, the comedian. Wearing a white labcoat and goggles. Either as interstitial bits between segments in the sermon, or as a pre-sermon sketch. Next, the visuals. You do a little more to make the sermon series TV-like. You come up with a similar sounding "theme" song, maybe even complete with words you teach the congregation. If you have interstitials, you can use it as bumper music. You have to conduct "research" or at least somehow use the Bible teaching in a manner different from straight text-teaching. We're talking about a TV show here, so there might be false-starts, misdirection, or even something that completely doesn't work. So at the end, you need to end up with Myths that are BUSTED, PLAUSIBLE or CONFIRMED.

And if you're really going to play it up, you'd pick Biblical topics that have really scientific applications. Sure, we're talking about faith in the unseen and miracles, so you're not going to scientifically prove how the Red Sea was parted, that Jesus did really die and rise from the dead or disprove the virgin birth (good luck with that - any of them), but in the end, you're going to have myths that are busted. (Biblical teaching doesn't confirm the myth.) You'd make use of hand-held camera to get in close on the action, even if it's to read over the pastor's shoulder as they look closely at what the Bible says about a topic. And if you want to go really over the top, you do the other "church business" (songs, offering, etc.) as "commercials." But that's probably going too far. You do, however, consider changing the "set" of the front of the church, etc.

What don't you do? Add "God's Edition" to the logo and then conduct church as normal. That's not being relevant. That's just theft of someone else's design.

(I could do this much easier for de-constructing/re-constructing "Extreme Makeover: Church Edition" - the ideas are better, there's so much more you could do, with or without a building campaign. I should have done a post after seeing a banner that alone told me that a church was stealing the idea without actually doing anything with it other than replacing "home" with "church" and then conducting church as usual.)
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