The Worship Quote of the Week for (08/09/2005):

Worship and Marketing—Ouch!
We live a world that is drunk on the idea of “making a good impression” in the eyes of the world. How does this intoxication affect the gatherings of the local Christian church? Today’s WORSHIP QUOTE is a much-needed rebuke from Donald Miller’s book SEARCHING FOR GOD KNOWS WHAT.

A friend told me recently he volunteered at a church only a mile from my house. This is a large church with a successful television ministry. He said his job was to usher people to their seats, and that after he had been on the job for a while, he was asked to put some of the more “pleasant-looking people” on the front rows as these people were more likely to be caught in the picture when the camera pulled out on the audience, or when the preacher walked down from the stage to make a point.

I assure you, I am not making this up.

And please don’t misunderstand me. There are very few churches like this, but as a Christian community, if Paul or Peter or whoever were to write a letter to us, I think this business of showing favoritism and being obsessed with the way we market our faith might come up.

The second chapter of the book of James tells us, specifically, not to take a wealthy person and seat him in a place of honor and leave a poor person in the back. I take this to mean that in church, the rules of the lifeboat [see below] don’t apply, that church is a refuge, where the kingdom of God is emulated, not mocked.

— Donald Miller, SEARCHING FOR GOD KNOWS WHAT. Nashville: Nelson Books, 2004, p. 211. ISBN: 0-7852-6371-3.

[LIFEBOAT: In the last sentence (above) and throughout the book the author refers to the rules of the lifeboat. He introduces this dilemma in an earlier chapter:

When I was a kid in elementary school my teacher, Mrs. Wunch, asked our class a question that I’ve come back to about a million times, trying to figure out an answer. The question she asked went along with a lesson about VALUES CLARIFICATION, which is a fancy name for learning how to be a snob. This is how the question went: “If there were a lifeboat adrift at sea, and in the lifeboat were a male lawyer, a female doctor, a crippled child, a stay-at-home mom, and a garbageman, and one person had to be thrown overboard to save the others, which person would we choose?” I don’t remember which person we threw out of the boat. I think it came down to the lawyer, but I can’t remember exactly. I do remember, however, that the class did not hesitate in deciding who had value and who didn’t (p. 105).]

Friend, you are of great value to the God of the universe.
Have a great week.

Chip Stam
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky

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