How good is good enough when it comes to doing what we do in church on Sundays?
It’s a tough question to answer. I’m sure it’s one that churches everywhere struggle with. We all want things done well but well is a relative term. Well depends on the people who make up your community (their gifts, their numbers, their availability). Well is measured by whatever metric matters most (inclusion, excellence, grace, beauty?). Well varies from Sunday to Sunday even for the ‘most gifted’ preachers, musicians, and tech operators (everyone has good weeks and bad).
And is ‘doing well’ what we’re going for in church? If our faith is about grace (and not works), shouldn’t doing well be based on God’s take on us – a perfect Heavenly Father who chooses to love the heart of every completely out of tune 4 year old singing in the children’s choir? Let’s face it, compared to God’s perfection we’re all just yelping.
But in the bible, excellence and beauty seem to matter a lot to God. He made a perfect creation. He gave amazing (and often celebrated) artistic, musical and leadership gifts to people. But on the other hand God also used stutterers, runts and self-righteous prigs. His power is made perfect in weakness right?
So, again, its all so confusing to me. Do you just do the best you can with the people you have, trusting that God is good with that? Let the best speakers speak and strongest singers sing and wisest leaders lead and find a way to speak the truth in love when it comes to discerning which is which?
Do you try to improve going forward as a faith community; knowing that you’re made in the image of a God who does all things well? I think you do. But the moment that that thought translates into action, and I have to tell someone that their voice isn’t good enough, or that they don’t have the technical aptitude, or that they’re not called to preach or teach children, my confidence ebbs. Who am I to make those kinds of calls?
I suppose it’s not up to me to make those choices. Decisions that strike the right balance between excellence and grace need to be communally made. But I’m not sure how that happens. Do musicians make music decisions or does the rest of the singing community? Or should church leaders make those calls? I suppose it needs to be a mix of all of the above. Which only adds to the complexity.
Maybe the answer is less about where you draw the line and more about when you do.
Jesus called a motley crew of untrained fishers to be the foundation of his church. He started with very average people and transformed them into very powerful leaders. This took years. I suppose taking the time is the most gracious (and costly in terms of energy expended) way of having the conversation. Give people every chance to succeed and find their way. Do this in love and with compassion for both the person and the congregation. Don’t be too quick to judge. Have faith that God can create a kind of community where excellence and inclusion aren’t seen as mutually exclusive. Imagine a community so defined by love, so marked by humility, that everyone is able to come to the same conclusion about ‘who’s called to do what’ all at the same time.