Let’s play pretend for just a moment, shall we? (I’m a daddy to a four year old. I’m good at this game.)
Let’s pretend that you serve at a church with an unlimited budget. A bottomless well of volunteers. Resources out the wazoo. And let’s say that your vision meetings sound like something straight out of a prosperity playbook: “If you can dream it, you can do it.” “Go after whatever’s in your heart.” “Bigger and better and then even BIGGER and EVEN MORE BETTER AND THEN [awesomeness explodes everywhere].”
If you could do anything you wanted, would you?
If you could do anything you wanted, should you?
My entire ministry revolves around serving and loving the guests who walk through our doors on the weekend. That means I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking through their experience: what will they appreciate? How will they feel cared for? What will help them take the next step?
And sometimes when you combine the words experience and they, you find yourself on a slippery slope, a never-ending cycle of trying to outdo yourself. Last week’s unforgettable sermon object lesson becomes this week’s live camel on stage which becomes next week’s SUV giveaway.
I’m being a bit hyperbolic, but perhaps you’ve seen it before: a church’s bells and whistles become a little too run-of-the-mill, so we get shinier bells and louder whistles. And all the while, our guests are on a never-ending journey down the rabbit hole of our creative genius.
My own church is no stranger to this. There have been instances in the past, even things that I have been responsible for, where I’ve looked back and said, “Yep, we did it because we could. But should we have…?”
Maybe instead of being bigger and better, we concentrate on what has meaning: what will promote life change? What will point to the gospel? What will make much of Jesus and less of us?
I recognize that even the discussion of such a slippery slope is itself a slippery slope. Some could use this as an excuse to trade quality for apathy and planning for flying by the seat of your pants. This is an incredibly subjective conversation, but perhaps it’s one worth having.
If your budget was unlimited, your volunteers had no end, and your schedule was not a factor…would you?