Pastor's Blog

When my wife and I bought our first television, we couldn’t afford cable.  We just used “bunny ears” – the antennae that extend and retract and swivel and rotate.

No one position of the antennae brings in every channel.  Every time you change channels you must adjust the bunny ears to a new position. 

Time weakens the joints of the antennae.  They won’t stay extended, so you fix them in place with duct tape. 
Then the reception is weak, so you wrap them with aluminum foil or a wire coat hanger.
Which makes the antennae too heavy, so they slowly droop down and lay flat.  So you prop them up with books – or assign one of the children to hold them in place so you can watch the game.

And your idea of a “good picture” falls somewhere between snowy and less snowy.

You get accustomed to the wire-hanger duct-taped aluminum-foiled monstrosity on top of your television.  (Perhaps it’s tasteful modern art.)
You get accustomed to replacing the foil, losing the picture when someone walks by the TV, and missing half your show because you were adjusting the bunny ears to get a “good picture”.
You get accustomed to an awful picture being a “good picture”.
The TV works. 

The experience of the bunny ears is what I picture when I think about ministry.

I see the church as intensely personal.  It’s not only about people; it is people.  It is a people – imperfect but forgiven souls striving together to know God and obey His truth and live life together as it was intended to be lived.  It is the connections between us, and our connections with Him, and the Spirit of God working in and through all those connections to mold each soul and the whole body to be the beautiful bride (the technical term is “sanctification”). 

This heavenly idea seems so abstract, seems to defy physical boundaries, seems to be beyond marketing.  It must be believed and practiced, tasted and experienced – not packaged, marketed, and sold like some generic widget, mass-produced and stamped out on an assembly line.

But our feet still walk – on carpeting.  We park cars in lots and sit on chairs in heated and air-conditioned buildings that have lights and projectors and sound systems that require electricity and water and sewer.  We function amid “stuff”, and “stuff” involves that most earthly thing:  money. 

As abstract and heavenly as the church is, she is earthly.  We are regularly reminded of that.  We still break bread and sip grape juice together to remember a real wooden cross on which a body of flesh was tortured and broken, bleeding real red blood, and heaving one last gasp to declare the heavenly business finished. 

And it was a real body that rose from a real grave . . .

We cannot avoid that earthly part.  We must deal with the world as we find it, not as we wish it to be.  I am a missionary to America, and like it or not, I live in a society oriented to marketing.  It is how America functions, the language she speaks. 

It is easy to overdress the church in the American garb of marketing.  Overdressed she can become a prostitute.  But if we don’t dress her at all she will seem so foreign that she will go misunderstood and her message won’t be grasped.

We must be a heavenly people – I will never abandon that picture -- but I have concluded that we must make SOME use of the “stuff” of American culture.  We can’t escape dirty hands working in a fallen world.  There are some aspects of marketing we can use to serve God in America.

If bunny ears can get some reception, a snowy picture is better than none at all.

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