A Rock Concert and A TED Talk

I went to my first motivational, self-help seminar in the late 70s. I think we knew even back then that these things have little or no staying power. But by the 80s people were out on the circuit earning a lot of money doing these seminars–Dennis Waitley, Brian Tracey, Steven Covey, Wayne Dyer, and many others.

That’s a little like the evolution of evangelical churches. They went from a choir and preaching conversion to, as I heard this week from Keith Giles, “a rock concert and a TED Talk”. The question that goes begging is, do these gatherings have any more impact than the momentary boost we got from the motivational speakers?

[Note: all of you from liturgical backgrounds can just smile at this. Still, where does your budget go?]

Giles was ordained as a Southern Baptist minister but, as he says, he left the church to follow Jesus. He started a church where 100% of the offerings went to people in need. Since there were no funds for rent, they met in houses. Since there were no funds for staff salaries, he got a job.

When I had positions of influence in a church, I liked to propose evaluating the budget based on disciplines. How much of the budget just goes to support the status quo–staff, buildings, denomination, and the like? And then, how much do we use from the model of the early church described in Acts and 1 Corinthians to people in need? It should be noted that I have seldom had positions of influence in churches.

I suppose it is our responsibility to find and nurture a place where spiritual formation is nourished and service to others come first. Or, we can find a place with leaders with big egos, budgets targeted internally, and people as numbers.

Originally it wasn’t a church organization, but ekklesia a gathering of people. They met in houses, gave their offerings to those in need, and worked on spiritual formation. Sounds good to me.

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