One of the things that Christians always seem to be doing, is either finding or talking about a church that they really enjoy going to. That’s great, it’s important to have a community of fellow Christ-followers that are an encouragement to your faith. However, when I inevitably ask “what do you like about your church?” the answer generally hurts to hear:
“THE SPEAKER IS SOOOOO GOOD!”.
Bleachers and the Field
Not that there is anything wrong with a good teacher, or for that matter a gifted, charismatic speaker. It’s encouraging to know that among the Christian community there are many people that can influence a crowd, pass sage advice, and motivate change from a pulpit or stage. Martin Luther King did it, so did Jonathan Edwards, and from what I hear, Jesus dabbled in public speaking as well.
However, when my friends gush over the speaker at a local church, and cite him as the primary reason that they are attending it, I have to conclude that they are there less interested in furthering the mission of the church community, and more interested in being spoon-fed truth while sitting in the bleachers.
The skilled preachers should continue doing what they do from the front, but parishoners need to begin changing how they respond. Rather than simply writing notes in their Sunday morning programs, hoping to find a nugget of untapped truth to apply to their lives, it is time to begin also applying some of the most basic principles of Jesus’ incarnational lifestyle in the world around them.
When this begins to happen, the crowd become the players. Rather than seeking out churches that have “Awesome speakers!”, players seek communities that will also support them in mission, with a common ethos, highly involved in their city’s fabric, and loathe towards sitting on the sidelines.
Hopefully you will be one of these people.