Preachers and Christian Workers, Stop Trying to be Original and Start “Zagging” Like There’s No Tomorrow

One of the biggest problems in the church is that we have way too many preachers and ministry workers trying to be original while, at the same time, strangely, sounding the same, looking the same, thinking the same, and doing the same things. And in their feeble attempts to be original, they say the dumbest things. 

What goes along with that, like a twin brother, is that they are speaking to the same selfish, over-loved, and over-cared-for people who, quite frankly, could go on a sermon diet and lose some of their spiritual fat for the glory of God while the world all around the church is going to hell wholesale with hundreds of unmet needs.

In a Christianity Today article, Karl Vaters knocks a home run by saying:

Being Original Is Overrated

Swimming upstream is hard. So why do I constantly find myself doing that? After all, I don’t want to be rebellious. I don’t feel like a maverick. And I’m not starving to be original.

C.S. Lewis wrote, “Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.”

A few decades after Lewis, Rick Warren has become fond of telling a story about a pastor who said “I’m going to be original or nothing!” and that pastor became both. “Don’t strive to be original. Strive to be effective” is Warren’s takeaway from that story.

C.S. Lewis and Rick Warren are right. If you try to be original, you’ll fail at both originality and effectiveness. Yet, despite my agreement with them, I keep finding myself zagging when most of my contemporaries are zigging.


Because if most people are zigging, their zigging needs are already being met many times over. But what about those who need some zagging?

(Yes, those words are sounding really weird to me right now, too.)

Meeting An Overlooked Need

Sure, there may be a lot of people who need zigging. On the other hand, it may just be what’s popular right now.

Either way, I’d rather meet an overlooked need that’s not being met than an obvious need that’s already being well served.

Zagging is not about originality, it’s about finding and filling an otherwise overlooked need.

For instance, I didn’t write The Grasshopper Mythor start this blog because writing about small church ministry is a booming industry. Quite the opposite.

I noticed that small churches were a vastly under-appreciated and overlooked segment of the church. And I happen to be one of those overlooked small church pastors!

While almost every church leadership book, blog and conference was zigging about becoming bigger, there was practically no one zagging about how to pastor well in the ministry setting most pastors actually serve in – the small churches of the world.

Stop wasting time trying to be original, trying to do what others are doing, or trying to be like this preacher or that preacher — and get to zagging. Look at the needs that are not being met in your church and community. Ask people what they believe is missing from the church’s outreach efforts. And then get in gear to meet those needs.

by Alonzo Brooklyn