Friday, December 21, 2007

Professionalism in the Church

So my son goes to Pre-School at one of the "premier" Christian Pre-Schools in town and last night they had a wonderful Christmas performance. I mean there were lights, cameras, stage props and plenty of music. There were 100s of people in attendence and probably over 100 little kids performing as well. It was a full scale production if you're ever seen one before.

So here's my dilema. With all of that going on, wouldn't you think that the school/church would want to put their best foot forward when it comes to professionalism?

As I'm sitting there waiting for the show to start my mind starts to ask all of the typical questions that worship pastors ask when they attend someone elses Church. Except for maybe the last one...

1. Why aren't they starting on time (over 5 minutes late)
2. Where are the ushers? Aren't there supposed to be people helping us find a seat?
3. With all of the money this Church has, don't you think they could come up with a less cheesy manger scene?
4. (As the show starts) Are they really going to make all of those kids (2-6yr. olds) sit on stage for the entire production?
5. Why is that guy winging his presentation?
6. Why is this lady reading her notes and still forgetting announcements?
7. Why is this lady reading the words that are on the screen (off center I might add) in such a dreary and monotone voice?
8. Why aren't the microphones coming on when they should be?
9. Why is the CD skipping, didn't they rehearse this?
10. Why does this lady keep reading the words that are on the screen in that horrible tone?
11. How can a Church this size function at such an unprofessional level?
12. Is this what God means when He says that He'll use the foolish to confound the wise? (1 Cor. 1:27)

That last one really got me. So here's my question...

If God says that He uses the "foolish things of the world to confound the wise", then why do we try so hard to produce such high-end professional productions in our Churches? Shouldn't we just be who we are and not worry about how professional we are or aren't?

Hmmm... I know this post is going to ruffle some feathers. It's just an honest question that I've wrestled with for years, so be gentle.


Mike Dalton Bass Player said...

I'm stuck in the middle on this one, we have had something said about a guitar case being on stage and my thought was "is this going to change someones mind to not accept Christ because of a guitar case being on stage" I think not. But I do believe that less distraction is best so as far as productions go I am for it but if something goes wrong and something happens pray that whatever happens the people of the church handle it like Jesus would, with humility and grace. I have seen both ends where the pastor or leader handles it in the wrong way and makes themselves, the church and God look bad.

Just give the best effort and God will bless it, just don't do it half heartedly. 110% or nothing.

Bobby said...

I see where you're coming from, but I also don't think that is really what the scripture is addressing there. I think of it this are a church leader, with some amount of grace, and those were your thoughts. What is someone who sees quality everywhere else who doesn't have grace for the church thinking?

I guess I figure to a certain degree, if it isn't done with excellence, it is a distraction to the non-believer and could allow a barrier. On the flipside though, I am sure that God can work through that barrier when He is at work.

How's that for waffling? I guess I would say I see both sides, and both can go too far to the extremes. As in everything there has to be a balance. I would just probably lean toward the excellence side.

alex mclean said...

You know me - I'm a critic. There are obviously 2 extremes. I think rather than pontificate here, I'll post by thoughts on my blog soon.

Skip Crust said...

Hey Eric...betcha didn't know I was following your blog. Good stuff BTW.

I think that you're really touching on something, but taking your line of questioning one step further gets at the heart of the issue.

Does it even matter if we have "high end" church productions? I think the answer is no. (Now we're really ruffling feathers) I've come to believe that people aren't looking for the coolest, most well done church service. They're looking for real, authentic, life-giving worship and a spiritual experience that meets them where they are at. Most of the time, they just don't know it yet. They THINK they are looking for cool, but what they WANT is actually very different.

If we try to make our church about how good things look, we cater to people's sinful desire to satisfy our flesh. I equate it to opening Christmas presents. It's December 26th, and there are already presents on the floor that my kids won't play with again. It's the same way with people. They come to church because it's "cool", but they don't understand that it doesn't end here! Unfortunately, the thing they really need can't be found, because all of our (the Church's) time is spent making things look great and we don't have any more resources (time, money, energy) to dedicate to helping people experience life as a Christian. They are left with this shell of a Christian life that looks good on the outside, but the life inside is weak and empty. What happens is, they come for a while, and after the "wow factor" wears off, they try and find the next high. Think of how many Christians we know hung out for a while, but ended up leaving. Their reasons vary, but they almost without exception are because they were looking for something more.

When our programs are big, slick, and cool, we tell people that being a Christian is about looking good and doing things well, when that's not the message of the Christian gospel at all. I've come to realize that when you do things big, you actually cut the legs out from under the Gospel. Strong words, I know. But true nonetheless.

Christ was NEVER the slickest, coolest, most well rehearsed teacher in history. But he was the most authentic, life-giving, honest, loving teacher of all time. He didn't try and appeal to people's sense of what's in style. He gave life and taught what it means to life as a follower of The Way.

The most ironic part is that he did it in a very compelling, messy sort of way. Hanging out with Jesus wasn't ever scripted. Look at Peter cutting off the guard's ear, or having dinner with Nicodemus!

To answer your question Eric, God doesn't care how "excellent" we can produce a service. He cares about the heart, the motive, the desire.

OK. I'm done now. Sorry for blogging on your blog. I think I'll flesh my thoughts out some more on my own blog.

Karl said...

What's up, Eric!!

I think you can be authentic and "foolish" while still giving a service or a 'church production' which also doesn't make people feel awkward.

I'm not sure it's about professionalism necessarily...just give the service a flow so that people feel comfortable and there's some energy. And then if things fall flat, we have to have the 'authenticity' to laugh at ourselves.

Max Power said...

Nelson Searcy has one of the best quotes I've ever heard. I once heard him say "Always strive for excellence... and define excellence as the very best that you can do with what you have."

It's a great quote because it's realistic but doesn't let you become lazy.

Here's the deal - the thousands and thousands of people in the secular entertainment business are striving for excellence to increase their own fame and glory. When our fame and glory are on the line, we will all strive for excellence (99% of the time).

So, quote frankly, the thought that we would not seek excellence for God's fame and glory seriously bothers me. Anything less is laziness and straight-up lack of reverence.

You don't have to be Hillsong or Willow Creek but there's no excuse for not doing "the best you can with what you have".

I think that's the kind of excellence that blesses the heart of God.

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