Method Says More Than Content
How we communicate is just as important as what we communicate. Actually, more so.
In other words, the way we convey our message says as much or more as the words of our message. Method trumps content.
The other day, our church had one of those awkward silent moments in the service. There was a mix-up in how the sermon was to progress, and we stumbled along as we got back on track.
In discussing the incident with a friend, he recalled being asked to present his missions project to a large church that televised their services. Every detail of the service was rehearsed beforehand. They meticulously timed each segment to fit the hour slot. No deviations allowed. The program was to be slick and tight,
Our guffaw would not have been tolerated.
Thankfully, ours is a small congregation. We have the luxury to make mistakes in our service.
The fact that we’re allowed to have glitches says volumes. Perhaps the aforementioned mega-church’s zero-tolerance for mistakes in their service says even more.
What do we communicate about Christianity when our Sunday services have to be perfect? When every detail is choreographed? When the speaker is clever, polished and buff? When the music must be studio-perfect and usually performed by attractive, hip artists? When the service order and production clicks along without a hitch?
I fear the message that God loves losers and mess-ups and has plenty of grace for our mistakes is lost.
We can say those words all we want, but if our delivery methods consist of picture-perfect messengers and overly-polished productions, the congregation isn’t going to believe our words.
The ones on the stage have it all together.
They never make mistakes.
They always know exactly what to say and what to do.
They’re never off-pitch.
They’re obviously successful.
Christianity must be for those who have it all together.
I obviously don’t cut it.
Maybe when I do life better, God might let me on the inside.
Until then, I’ll keep quiet about my junk. I’ll try my hardest to fake it and convince everyone here I’m doing fine.
Our method is incongruous with our content.
One metaphor we use for church is the family of God.
How many families always have perfect productions? What family doesn’t have messes? Don’t parents and kids botch things up? Meals get burnt. Beds go unmade. Kids throw up at the most inopportune times. Mom and dad argue.
When families have to look picture-perfect and live life on cue, you end up with eating disorders, cutting, and obsessive habits. Family members end up in long-term therapy.
The message of grace, forgiveness, unconditional love and hope (the message of the Gospel) comes through most clearly in the middle of imperfections, mistakes and faults.
The awkward silence and mess-up in our service demonstrated and spoke more about God than whatever the sermon was about. It said more about the wonder of grace than any of the worship songs did.