Saturday, November 27, 2010

Is there too much excellence in your church?

I've had a love/hate relationship with excellence since I became much less capable of it, so I was pretty interested in this article when I saw it.  Here are some of my favorite, thought-provoking bits.

"I’m troubled by excellence in churches because—at least in my middle-America leafy suburb—excellence tends to mean we spend a lot of money on it. That we get only the best and the brightest to work on something. Or that we don’t do something until it can be done excellently."

"And that’s the biggest problem. We live in a world—even in smack dab in leafy suburbs—of need. Of people who need help. Now. Who can’t wait for things to be done excellently; they just need things done."

"I think, in fact, that this is how Jesus operated. I don’t picture him sitting around with his disciples talking about how they had to do everything excellently (and they didn’t tell us he did). It seems to me, he just wanted them to do something. While of course he was perfect so therefore did do everything 'excellently,' I suppose, his contemporaries mostly found him shocking. His sort of excellence wouldn’t have been appreciated."
- "The Trouble with Excellence" by Caryn Rivadeneira (June 16, 2010)

Then there was this comment.

'Here are a few insights I have had about this issue. In my workplace, I have attended many many seminars over the past 2 decades about "excellence". Many of them have been extremely valuable for my career. However, the church is not a Fortune 20 company and its purpose for existing is completely different. Too often I have seen in the church excellence used for somone to drive a project, a hiring, a change to the service-etc all under the heading of moving to excellence. I fear we value excellence over loving each other. The songs and books Christian write/sing may NOT be as good as our secular counterparts and that is actually okay. The purpose for singing or writing is to glorify God-and I would go so far to say that God is greatly glorifed by a less than perfect song but a tendar worshipful heart. People are not producing sloppy work-many of them are producing only what they know how to create-and that is good enough. They do it because they love the Lord. I fear our worship services are all about appearence, our meals are all catered, the sermons must be perfect etc. My parents held very high standards-we were held accountable for doing the best they knew we could-but no more. And those things we were not good at-our effort is what brought them joy.'
- trisha on June 16, 2010

Yeah.  It really made me think.  How about you? 


  1. I think I've spent enough time in churches that did things very un-excellently that I really appreciate it when I see it. (Choirs where nobody could read music, pianos that needed to be tuned, Pastors who misinterpreted scripture, and so on.) I think we need some kind of ideal of excellence, keeping in mind that God really does deserve our best, but tempered with a dose of reality regarding what we have to work with and what needs to be done.

    Somehow Jesus' comment that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath, seems relevant here. The ceremony or ideal isn't the most valuable thing; the humans and their relationship with God are.

  2. Amen. Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart also seems appropriate here.