I was watching Cold Pizza this morning and they ran a story on how there is a shortage of blue and green face paint in Seattle. As the Seahawks get ready for their playoff game this week, apparently fans are getting ready to show their support by getting painted up. There as an interview with a couple who are regular face painters and the guy said something like, "people are starting to get into the spirit and see how much fun it is when you get involved."
When I heard this I immediately thought about church. Our culture is shifting. We are moving from a group of people who simply like to watch to a group of people who like to participate. As the internet generation begins to grow up we see students and adults who don’t want to just be entertained, they want to be part of the show. As church leaders we need to take a serious look at our churches and see if we are putting on a show or if we are inviting people to get involved. I know that in the average church people are more involved at a football game than they are in our congregation.
Actually the more I think about it, the more it really is like a football game. We stand up at the beginning and sing. At the football game we sing a song that should have some meaning, but we really only hear at sports events. At church we sing songs that should have meaning, but we really only sing at church. Then we watch other people worship and "lead" us in worship. At least at a football game people understand that it is OK to express your emotions. Alright, back to the main post.
My first thought was about people wanting to get involved, but the more I started thinking about it a new thought came into my head. The people painting their faces in the stands aren’t really involved. They feel like they are involved and they are getting all of the emotional payoff of being involved, but actually they don’t really make a difference either way.
Am I giving people ways to be involved in the worship gatherings, but still not giving them a way to be in the game? Am I passing out face paint when I should be passing out shoulder pads? (ouch, that hurts me) When I give students opportunities to be more involved in church, but don’t give them opportunities to take Jesus outside of the walls of the church aren’t I just encouraging their segregated (as in God from the rest of the life) lifestyle? When I don’t create space for them to actually be involved with God, not as spectators, but as people in the world making a real difference aren’t I teaching them how to be better fans, when I should be teaching them to be better players?
I am teaching them to be better fans when I should be showing them how to be better players.
I think I am going to chew on that for a while.