Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Friday, June 17, 2011

Building People of Substance for Works of Power

I got an email ad the other day with the heading, “Does your church need a new stage?” Under the heading were several very colorful examples of the work the company had done in other churches. Lots of backlit crosses and spotlights and glitter, all very pretty. Given that our church at this moment has no stage ( I stand flat on the floor with everyone else) I thought , “Yeah, probably so.” I am used to being reflexively old-fashioned, so I didn’t really pay attention to the hesitation in my heart at the use of the term “stage.” I get that we are in a modern era and we need a swank setting and lots of moving parts in order to hold the attention of the spectators, but something just bothered me about that word. It kept coming back into my consciousness. Today I finally went to the dictionary for some definitions that really helped me:

1. stage: the part of a theater on which the acting takes place

2. pulpit: : an elevated platform or high reading desk used in preaching or conducting a worship service

3. platform: : a place or opportunity for public discussion

The answer to the ad question is, “No. We don’t need a new stage. We have had quite enough acting. We need a good deal less acting and a good deal more living.” Our church needs a pulpit, a place set apart for the holy function of preaching and conducting worship – real worship, not acting; prophetic preaching, not oratory. Once we have received from the pulpit, then we need a platform, not in the church, but in the world. We need places and opportunities where we can proclaim and apply the things we have received from the pulpit. That kind of platform is earned, not built. It may be found in the barber shop or the school cafeteria. It is located in the mind and will of the lost and dying. It is usually behind a door of skepticism that can only be opened by the key of consistent character. Our churches need lots of new platforms and many fewer stages.

Scripture Reading: so proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge your people. Don’t ever quit. Just keep it simple. You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food–catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. (2 Timothy 4:2-4 MSG)

Somebody Said: Fashion is the science of appearances, and it inspires one with the desire to seem rather than to be. Edwin Hubbel Chapin

It is a fine thing to be up to speed on what is popular in the culture. It is not a fine thing to feign a thing in order to be accepted by the culture. We too often become what we mimic and lose what we are.


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