Let Us Describe Our Congregation

A professor of political science loved to condense his tests to three “compare and contrast” essay questions. I’m hooked. Once while teaching seventh-grade writing, I had the class compare and contrast a sonnet from Shakespeare with a poem by Paul Simon.

The song has been going through my head for several days. I hope by writing this that song will go away (only to be replaced by something similar, I suppose).

Paul the Apostle wrote several times about the various people in a church congregation. For example, I’ve been reading Romans 12 almost daily for a month. Here he lists:

  • Prophecy
  • Ministry
  • Teaching
  • Exhorter
  • Giver
  • Leader
  • Compassionate

Does your church resemble this? For some strange reason, I keep thinking maybe it resembles a zoo? “They say it’s all happening at the zoo. I do believe it, I do believe it’s true.”

The monkeys stand for honesty
Giraffes are insincere
And the elephants are kindly but they’re dumb
Orangutans are skeptical
Of changes in their cages
And the zookeeper is very fond of rum
Zebras are reactionaries
Antelopes are missionaries
Pigeons plot in secrecy
And hamsters turn on frequently
What a gas, you gotta come and see
At the zoo

Does Paul Simon come closer to describing your group than Paul the Apostle? How do you cope? Where do you fit?

Yes, we don’t all bring all of our positive characteristics and talents to church all the time. We usually bring our foibles, problems, preconceived opinions, sins. We look for acceptance, change, a mission.

And now, I have passed the song off to you–and maybe I’ll sing with the Monkees “I’m a Believer.”

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