Ann Mara and I were in a meeting today with a trademark attorney as World Relief wanted us to pursue trademarking “World Relief NEXT.”

It turned out to be a really fun and engaging meeting as the lawyer took an interest in what NEXT is doing and also knew some of Ann’s friends. As a result, we dialogued a lot about ideas and the whole trademarking arena.

One of the things he taught us fascinated me.

The idea is simply that if you have a trademark and the industry changes so much that the phrasing becomes commonplace and you lose distinctiveness – you can actually lose your trademark. The example he gave was of a company that had “e” in front of their name and then lost their trademarking when everyone started putting “e” in front of their name with the whole internet “e” revolution.

This process of losing your trademark by becoming too generic or commonplace is called “Genericide.”

It made me think of my ongoing reflections on church culture and the need to reform it to look more like New Testament Christianity than American Cultural Christianity.

In other words, if we spend too much time copying other churches or building too many programs to serve people rather than lead or teach people we lose distinctiveness. The uniqueness of each church should arise from focusing squarely on discipleship – equipping and empowering people according to our own unique God given style.

If we lose focus or authenticity and become diluted, then we risk becoming too generic.

We risk genericide.



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