(I want to thank John Lunt for the inspiration for this blog post.)
Many television shows never make it past the pilot episode. One such show was a new reality show called “Missional Idol”. Based on the popular show “American Idol”, this new show attempted to crown America’s “Missional Idol”. People appeared before a panel of judges who would vote on the most missional person in America.
Unfortunately, only a few people showed up for the auditions, so they all made it through to the pilot program.
The first “Missional” contestant took the stage. He taught for 45 minutes about the necessity of believers living their lives in ways that demonstrate the love of God to the world. He explained the good news of Jesus Christ clearly, called people to follow Christ, and exhorted believers to faithful living in their home, neighborhoods, and workplaces. The audience cheered! The judges thanked the contestant and praised him for his eloquence and passion.
The next “Missional” contestant presented a detailed plan for developing a missional movement. He had graphs and charts, statistics and books and articles. He showed his conference and seminar plan as well as an exhaustive speaking schedule. He included an impressive list of Christian authors and celebrities who endorsed his plan. Once again the audience cheered, the judges gushed over his three-color charts.
The third “Missional” contestant used music. He played guitar and sang songs about reaching the world. The audience cried when he sang about a young girl in Asia who was sold as a sex slave and about a young boy in Africa who was dying of AIDS. The audience raised their hands and swayed to the rocking rhythms. The judges said they had never heard such powerful songs, and many people purchased the contestant’s new CD.
Another “Missional” contestant put on a puppet presentation. Another passed out several colorful and humorous tracts designed to convince people of their need to follow Jesus. A professor presented a detailed plan for courses and degree programs. Contestant after contestant impressed the judges and the audience with their skills and talents and gifts.
Finally, the last contestant left the stage and the judges began their deliberation. After a long pause, they turned to the audience. “We can’t decide,” the judges announced. “Everyone seems very talented, but something seems to be missing for each presentation. Can any of you help us decide?”
A young lady near the middle of the auditorium raised her hand. “What about Joe?” She asked in a timid voice.
“Who’s Joe?” one of the judges asked.
The lady pointed to a shadowy figure just to the side of the stage. The judges recognized Joe as the man who brought them drinks and snacks throughout the show. “Why Joe,” they asked, almost in unison.
“When I was coming into the auditorium,” the woman started, “Joe saw me struggling with my bags and my baby. He helped me carry my things and find a seat. He stayed with me until I was situated. I tried to tip him, but he told me he was not an employee. He said that Jesus loved him and gave him everything – even a new life – and then Joe told me that God loved me and that because of that he loved me. I think Joe should be the Missional Idol.”
An older man at the back of the audience stood up. “I vote for Joe also. When got out of our taxi, I realized that I had left my wallet at home. We didn’t have money to pay the cab fare. We were about to get back in the taxi to go back home to get the money – and miss the show – when Joe walked up and paid the cab fare. I thanked Joe and asked for his address so that I could repay him. He asked me not to repay him. He said that God had paid everything for him, and he explained what God had paid for me. I also think Joe should be the Missional Idol.”
Person after person began to share stories about how Joe had helped them in small and big ways during the evening.
The judges eventually stopped the audience. “When Joe brought us drinks and snacks during the show, we also thought Joe was an employee of the production company. We started asking him to get other things for us, and he never complained. Looking back, we treated Joe like a servant, and he kept acting like a servant.”
“We realize now,” the judges continued, “that this is exactly what was missing from the contestants’ presentation. They talked about, conferenced about, sang about serving and loving other people, but none of them actually got their hands dirty while serving other people.”
“So, by unanimous decision, we are crowning Joe as the ‘Missional Idol'”. The audience erupted in applause. They jumped to their feet and continued clapping and cheering for several minutes. However, the stage remained clear. A few stage hands began rushing across the stage and looking backstage for Joe. Eventually, someone walked up to the judges and whispered to them.
One of the judges quieted the audience and made a final announcement. “Apparently, Joe slipped out the back door while we were talking about him. The last time anyone saw Joe, he was helping a family move their belongings into their new apartment across the street. We don’t know how to find Joe to give him this award.”
He paused a moment, and then continued: “Does anyone know how we can honor Joe?”