I love to eat. (The very reason I can't get down to the weight I'd like to be....but that's an entirely different post. ) I like a good meal. I really hate it when I go to a pricey restaurant and order something that sounds very appetizing, expecting high quality food, only to be disappointed. Sometimes the dish looks good, but once I bite into it, I realize that all the sauce, marinating, and decoration in the world can not turn a leathery piece of steak into a tenderloin. Looks can be deceiving.
I was having lunch today with my daughters and overheard a conversation in the booth behind me. Two men were meeting for lunch during their busy day and one asked the other what he had been up to and doing this week. The gentleman launched into an exciting description of his church's "VBS".....Vacation Bible School. He talked for at least 15 minutes about how fabulous it was the night before. The set on the stage was phenomenal. They had a working drawbridge right on the stage. The kids could walk over it and out the building when they were finished with their time in the sanctuary. He said that his church goes "all out" in visual aids and decorations. He said that he was helping in the four-year old department. He said that he didn't have to do anything but show up and herd them from room to room. After describing the "set" he launched into how incredible the recreation time was. "It was total chaos"...."wild"....."things flying everywhere"....and how much fun the kids were having. He explained to his friend that the whole night was designed to be that way so it would be exciting. (the other man still hadn't spoken) The gentleman continued with his description of a contest that the boys and girls were having. They are competing to see who can bring in the most pennies by the end of the week. (For what, you ask? He didn't say. I'm sure there is a recipient, but it wasn't important really, only the contest.) He laughed and said that he'd never seen so many pennies in his life and how much work it was for the kids to get everything changed into pennies. He finished by saying that the kids went back into the sanctuary at the end of the evening to "get a penny count and sing a couple of songs and then go home". As their food arrived, the other gentleman asked if he was going back again tonight and he told him he was and that he was looking forward to another night of fun.
I was stunned. Well, not really. I was really just surprised at the "coincidence" over the fact I had just had a conversation this morning about how children AND ADULTS are not satisfied with anything that isn't well packaged and high-tech. There seems to be a lot of time spent on the package....the visual appeal....anything to keep our attention. I mean if it doesn't move fast, have special effects, and sound like our favorite pop/rock band then we lose interest. Last year we purchased a $30 computer game called "Mathblaster" because it was exciting and "fun" and was supposed to reinforce math skills. We found that after one week, the math skills had not improved at all, but our daughter knew how to play the game. Her score was not even important as long as she could get her super hero from point A to point B. He could arrive at his destination, unharmed, but without any points from correct math equation answers. So back to the old-fashioned flashcards we went. Amazingly, the flash cards worked...and I got them at the Dollar Tree. ($29 too late)
Sadly, in the entire conversation I overheard today at lunch, not one time did the gentleman mention how much the children were learning about Christ. Never once did he say relationships were being built with the children. After all, how could they as they "herded" them from station to station amidst the "wild chaotic fun".
We are caught in a current that keeps dragging us farther and farther away from the shore. We are serving up beautiful, elaborately prepared and garnished meals with no sustenance or nourishment. It tastes good going down, but there it is basically cheap meat with a lot of sauce.
What if all the money that had been spent on that drawbridge had been turned into pennies? And in turn, those pennies turned into dollars? And the dollars given to further the kingdom of God? How much time did it take to build that drawbridge? How much time was spent preparing the message for the children to actually hear? Do they even compare?
I am thankful for all the wonderful teachers in this world who pour their hearts into their lessons. Who spend hours with the Lord during the week, in order to bring a deep, succulent lesson each Sunday that gives us something to nourish our clean our souls and minds. God's Word is living and breathing and stands on it's own. It doesn't need a makeover.
Now before you go and chew me up and spit me out, I am not saying that having fun and decorating is wrong. Let's just be honest. Where is the investment being made? Are we laying out a beautifully decorated table, piping in the latest music, stimulating our venue visually, and serving MUSH, or are we cleaning up our house, planning a healthy and tasteful meal, searching for the best and most beneficial ingredients, cooking it until it's perfectly done, and serving it after a prayerful blessing?