God doesn't want average
As a family we are in the midst of preparations for my daughter’s wedding, which by the time you receive this, will have taken place. I have both the delight and honour of giving my daughter away and preaching at the service. As any parent of a bride will know, everything needs to be ‘just right’ for the big day; flowers need to be organised and arranged, table plans need to be produced, orders of service printed – the list could go on. In all of these preparations, we have sought to do and give the best that our modest budget can afford, we have strived for excellence.
Many of the guests who will be attending the day do not yet know the Lord, which has given us a great opportunity both in the sermon, and in our conduct at the reception, to show something of Jesus. It has also focussed my own attention somewhat into ensuring that the sermon is both appropriate for my daughter and her fiancé, as well as speaking to those attending who are not natural church goers.
In my preparations I have felt personally challenged by God in so much that would I put this much effort into a regular preach? Would I go to the lengths of preparation and research into the backgrounds of those attending to ensure that at some level, the message might connect with them, that the music might be familiar and that the church might look its best? I wonder how you would answer a similar question?
Paul, in his letter to the young church in Colosse, offers the following advice:
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”
I cannot help but wonder if all too often, churches are mired in averageness. Our facilities sorely need a new coat of paint, the piano is woefully out of tune, the sound system is tinny, and the lighting is poor, and our sermons are inaccessible to any who have little or no bible knowledge. It seems to me that the longer we spend on the inside of church, the less we are aware of how it is perhaps seen by those on the outside. Have we settled for average instead of striving for excellence?
Excellence doesn't mean being slick and so professional that we lose all personality, nor does it necessarily mean a huge budget. You’d be surprised at the value of a spell-checked notice sheet, a cleaned worship area, removal of out-dated events from our websites can make. It lifts things from average to excellent.
I hope that you hear my heart, in that excellence is not the goal; changed lives through the encountering of Jesus Christ is the goal. Nevertheless, I do believe that in our services we should show heart, authenticity and passion to those who attend; that we should do whatever we can to ensure each aspect of the service is as engaging and as professional as we can make it. So for the coming month, whether you are taking a wedding, leading a house group, or preaching at one of your regular services, aim for excellence rather than average.