the weblog of Alan Knox

The show must go on?

Posted by on May 20, 2010 in blog links, gathering | 7 comments

Linda at “kingdom grace” asks an interesting question in her post “Ecclesial Imagination“:

If the people of your church were to show up on Sunday morning, and “the show” were canceled for the morning, would they know what to do?

The question is difficult to answer for me, because we don’t really have a “show.” While there are certain things that we do when we meet together, those things and the order of them can change from week to week. Similarly, the people who take part changes from week to week.

But, still, I wonder… what would happen if everyone who had planned to take part was not able to meet with the church that day… It is an intriguing question.

Think about the next time you plan to meet with the church. If you showed up and none of the normal leaders were there to get things started, no one started playing music, no one stood up to teach/preach, nobody was there to read from Scripture… what would the people do? What would you do?


7 Comments

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  1. 5-20-2010

    I think the tendency is for those who don’t consider themselves leaders to let those who are in the leadership role do all the work, while everyone else is “along for the ride”. It would seem to me that the difficult part of leadership would be to help those that are used to sitting in the crowd and listening, actually take a proactive role in seeking the face of God, and finding/developing that piece of Christ that has been deposited in them. In order for the body to mature each member must contribute, and if the usual leaders are absent, those that are present should ideally have things to share amongst each other, kind of like being “instant in season and out”. I think this takes time to grow towards, as I just now find myself growing into this role, after having walked outside traditional Christianity for 10 years now.

  2. 5-20-2010

    We have three elders in the group we gather with and all three are “punctuality challenged”, so it is not unusual for us to arrive at the normal start time and have no “leaders” present. We just get started anyway, someone else steps up. We look to our leaders for, well, leadership but no one is averse to stepping up as needed. It is the only place we have gathered with the church where we could have a normal Sunday gathering without a single elder present.

  3. 5-20-2010

    What Happened to Me

    One Wednesday night my wife Nancy and I visited a local congregation to attend their Bible study. It was a rainy night and the out of town pastor, who leads the study called one of the elders to say he would not be there. He asked the elder to please set in for him in the study.

    The class is usually very large they said, but they said they had called many of the members to tell them that the pastor wouldn’t be there.

    For the first 15 minutes of the “study”, I heard only discussions surrounding each persons health and what medication they were taking. I interrupted by asking what subject they were studying thinking that we could open the Word and at least get a discussion of the topic started. The reply from another elder was, let me go and find you a book that we are studying.

    After trying to interject some thoughts with little participation, the elder that was standing in said we might as well call it a night. Needless to say, I was very disappointed at the lack of enthusiasm to discuss our Lord. We are all to be participants in the study of His Word for He is the WORD.

    2Ti 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

  4. 5-21-2010

    Mark,

    I think you’ve hit on something key. Every believer should understand that the meeting is their own responsibility – and the responsibility of the others meeting together.

    Arthur,

    Thanks for the example!

    Larry,

    Thanks for another example… perhaps a negative example?

    -Alan

  5. 5-22-2010

    One of my concerns is church planting, and frankly, “the show” is the model many church planters use. The show is the church, and success is measured by the audience size.

    You start by parachuting a complete church into place; that is, pastors identify and move to the new church site and a core team is established: setup people, greeters, band/worship team. Typically, you are given funding and about 15 months to get this in place. All of this occurs before the first “church meeting” (show) takes place.

    You practice the show and perfect the show. You critique the show and think through all sorts of eventualities. You craft mood, drama, lighting, atmosphere, message with care. When you are really, really ready to launch the new actual church, you send out $50,000+ worth of marketing and open the new church first meeting day with 300 attenders. (Really, this works.)

    Half stick over the next month, because the show is so very good. You have another year or so of funding to build up enough attenders–which are the audience for the show. It may take 300 to 450 attenders before the costs of the show are at break even, and then you are successful.

    This sounds ridiculous, but the folks involved are sincere and believe this is what they should do. Obviously, I disagree. (Yes, Alan, I will fellowship with them if they bring the good mustard.)

    But, on this church planting strategy, think I’m kidding? http://churchtaskforce.org/resources/cpmodels

  6. 5-30-2010

    Art, I know from personal experience that you are not kidding, nor is your description even the slightest bit of hyperbole. I was part of one of those “church plants” back in the mid-90’s, and as the “Pastor of Worship and Creative Arts”, I certainly did my part in that process. Personally, I cringe looking back on it because I see things so very differently now.

    And a general comment not directed at Art:

    As for “the show”, I think it is so easy to look at other people as worse we are. We all have the tendency to thank God that we’re not like the tax collector over there in the corner. But I think that “the show” can be very subtle, even when we think we are not doing it ourselves.

  7. 5-20-2011

    This is a great question and it tends to point to human nature (fallen nature). In many more settings than just most typical (IC) church settings this is the case as well. Taking responsibility is something we try to avoid by nature. Think about health, I know a doctor who now promotes educating natural healing who says clearly your doctor is in charge of your disease or sickness but you are in charge of your health. In other words we tend to want to pay someone else to do the thinking for us. I say this to help make a point of a thought I had when I first read this and it is more of a question. Does the religious system just cater to our fallen nature making us think we are doing right by following all its demands and fitting into its structure not realizing that it is keeping us from the reality that we are now kings and priests with the Lord?