Monday, April 18, 2011

Pastoral Tension #4 - The Show

The parents don't dance at our church, but the little kids do. They thrash around on chairs during the music. They thrash around during announcements, too. Their energy is both endearing and distracting. The cell phone that rang during my sermon yesterday was simply distracting. What we do as a church on Sunday morning is the Show. One local pastor refers to it as the organizational aspect of the church. There is also an organic element. That is the part where the church members drive home in their hybrids and troll about in their gardens. Then they watch TV until their eyes bleed and fall asleep in recliner chairs. This is the church scattered, in the words of Hugh Halter, et al. We need to learn to do a better job of assessing health and growth in terms of its scattered and organic nature. A regular tension I face as a pastor is how much time to put into the Show (sermons, songs, and ministry spotlights) and how much time to put into the mess of life off-stage. The Christian life is not all that well represented in the Show. The Show is clean, polished, and schedule-driven; life off-stage is unpredictable, unrehearsed, and ambiguous. So we let our kids loose. We invite them to sing with us. Sometimes they storm the stage. Sometimes they snore. So do the adults. Distractions are as immanent as the Lord's return. And if any pastor thinks he can control the environment, he is a fool. But so is the pastor who invites chaos to reign. The Show calls for some order (1 Cor. 14:40): stay awake, silence your phones, and speak in turn. But, please, let the children dance.

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