May 6, 2008

drop it like a tot

The Church is pretty desperate to reach the masses these days, so much so that they have tried just about every gimmick imaginable. We get Christian celebrities to come speak at our churches, helicopters to come drop Easter eggs, we give away Hummers and Harleys, we make it snow in the desert, we hand out door prizes, free dinners, and trips... not to mention a million other creative ideas. Now I'm not saying they're all bad ideas (although I am saying that they are gimmicks). But there's one gimmick that I haven't seen here yet. It's actually more of a ritual, sort of like communion or baptism...

But not quite.

It's only a matter of time before we see... the baby drop.

8 comments:

Christopher. said...

oh sweet Jesus...

Nate said...

Odd. So odd.

chubbs said...

hmm......how do you comment this? wow

Lindsay said...

Mouth...open... I just want to have a big house so I can take in every mistreated kid in the world. Does that sound like something we can work on??

Pete Wilson said...

I think your right about the gimmicks. I know there have been time I have falled prey to the temptation of trying to draw a crowd. Where do we draw the line? That is a great questions.

Ryan Guard said...

Drawing that line is a tricky thing! The problem with disliking gimmicks is that they work! Maybe a better question to ask, after all of the people have responded to your gimmick, is

"What now?"

I criticized the gimmicks a little bit, but the bottom line is that I want everyone in my city to know about this gift of life that is available to them...

The loaded answer for me is that I think there are more creative, more compelling, and even more effective ways to bring people through the doors than what we usually see from churches.

I feel like ranting a little bit, so read on if you would like, or feel free to shop around.

I teased the helicopter drop idea a little bit. I think that this is a great idea- and it was obviously effective because after Elevation Church pulled it off there were a number of other churches who pulled it off the next year. It worked- it was creative- the kids loved it- they'll want to come back- and I'm sure it was a ton of fun. All good things! But this is a question of value to me... and perhaps the helicopter idea is the most valuable compared to a scenario something like this...

"Hey guys, we're so glad you're here. Happy Easter! We have some great stuff planned for today's service. I think some of you may have been disappointed that we didn't bring the helicopter back this year, but I think you'll appreciate our reasons for doing so. You see, we heard that there are thousands of people dying every day in El Salvador, which is heart breaking of course, but especially when you hear the reason why. These people don't have access to clean drinking water. So here's what we did. We took the $8,000 we were going to spend on the helicopter and we donated it to Blood:Water Mission, which is an organization that builds wells in villages all over the world where people don't have immediate access to clean water. So we built four wells with that $8,000, which will provide water for approximately 2,000 people for the next fifty years."

OK, so... somewhere in there I'm thinking you've won some hearts in the room. I'm thinking you've got some people who are visiting for the first or second time, and they are asking "Is there anything different about this church?" "Is this church more than just a collection of people who believe a certain set of things?"

You could replace the wells with a number of things that have value that goes so far beyond a memory. I can just imagine the conversations between two people later that week who went to two different churches. One would say something about how cool it was that their church brought in a famous actor to share their testimony, and the other would try not to sound arrogant when they talked about the thousands of lives their church saved... which story is more compelling? Which group of people are more intriguing? Were both effective? Yes, in some ways! Would building a school be a better idea than a well? Maybe... maybe a school and a church? Maybe a school, a church, and a couple of wells too?

Check out what Dallas Willard had to say about tricky questions like this one:

"We may not soon have bigger crowds around us- and in fact they may for a while even get smaller- but we will soon have bigger Christians for sure. This is what I call 'church growth for those who hate it.' And bigger crowds are sure to follow, for the simple reason that human beings desperately need what we bring to them, the word and reality of The Kingdom Among Us."
- The Divine Conspiracy

Maybe the helicopter AND the shovels can come together to create a compelling philosophy of ministry?

"Balance, Daniel son... you must have balance."
-Mr. Miagi,

Sara said...

hmmmmm. Ive had a hard time with this topic. not really the whole baby drop (which is insane by the way) but the whole gimmick thing churches do.


Recently i was at church on a wednessday night. I was pretty much in for a night of dissapointment. I haven't learned anything where i'm at in the past 5 or 4 months on a wednessday night. So here is Eddie, presenting what can be won at the all nighter that friday night. He pulls out two wii's. not one but TWO. he then goes on to tell us that a third one could be won sunday morning. it got me thinking. They could be doing so much more with that.


it just seems kind of weird how we just got done with the whole pirate series about materialisim. yet i see the church being very materialistic. Makes me wonder.

Ryan Guard said...

Hey Sara,

Thanks for your post. I totally understand your frustration. I know Eddie, and I know he has a huge heart, and that he wanted to create a ton of excitement for that event. You should hang out with him or Autumn and share some of your thoughts. He's a great listener, and I'm sure he'd love to hear your heart.

Don't give up on the group! Your frustration is a gift :) Use it to create some positive change.