We live in a world that values excellence. For the most part, what is seen on primetime television, the big screen in a theater, or experienced at your favorite theme park is highly produced and very polished. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s always good for us or godly, but it is well done. Most people won’t settle for less. B-rated movies are no longer tolerated.
Within the Church, this presents us with some serious challenges. People don’t expect (or want) Hollywood when they come through our doors, but they do expect quality and excellence.
We can fight that reality. We can argue that we won’t be compromised by our culture. We can resist, but in the words of the Borg, “Resistance is futile.” The truth of the matter is, despite the stated value of tolerance in our society, people won’t tolerate preachers who come unprepared, Aunt Zelda on an out-of-key piano, uncomfortable seats, lousy coffee, or a children’s ministry that sucks. Resistance is certain.
So should the church pursue excellence? How can we do so without compromising our spiritual values? And how can we do our best without struggling under the burden of perfectionism on the one hand or people-pleasing on the other?
Glad you asked. Here’s what we focus on at our church:
1. Our heart’s desire is to honor God who deserves our very best and does all things well. It’s not about being perfect; it’s all about honoring the Perfect One.
2. Our goal is to remove distractions. We should want to get out of the way and point people to Jesus. But if they can’t get past the out-of-tune guitar or singer, or the out-of-touch teacher, we’re creating barriers, not bridges. Jesus pointed people to God, and that must be our motivation for pursuing excellence. It’s about more of Him and less of us.
3. Our attitude is always humble and grateful regardless of the eventual outcome. Frankly, even when we’ve done our best to prepare, sometimes the unexpected happens. Sometimes it bombs! When it does, we should never destroy any singer, drama team member, teacher or volunteer through harsh criticism. We grow. We learn. We keep trying to improve while humbly knowing that our best efforts will still fall short at times. Perfectionism pierces. Excellence encourages.
4. Our focus is on faithfulness, not fickleness. We shouldn’t change things just to change things, but as faithful stewards of the gifts and resources of the Kingdom, we should change whatever must be changed. Our sacred cows are not very sacred when they get in the way of healthy development and growth.
5. Our end game is to bless God and to bless people. Obviously, blessing is better than cursing. We think it’s good, wise, and holy to endeavor to bless those who attend our services with the very best worship experience possible. We don’t expect everybody to leave happy. We’re not striving to win the approval of man. We do, however, hope people leave encouraged, challenged, and blessed by an encounter with God. And we know that encounter generally happens best in an environment of excellence.
Mediocrity is not marvelous, effective, or God-honoring. That’s why we believe God and His people deserve our very best.
“People were overwhelmed with amazement. ‘He has done everything well,’ they said.” Mark 7:37 (NIV)