The Little Rascals (aka Our Gang) was a series of shorts produced by MGM and Hal Roach studios from 1922 to 1944. It was based around the antics of a group of kids. One of the most famous lines from the series was "Hey gang, let’s put on a show!" It’s the line that came to mind when I read Perry Noble’s Creating An Experience – his apparent explanation for the growth of his church.
Now, I probably should be careful in criticizing his post as I wouldn’t want to provoke him to the point of his need "to be restrained from punching (me) in the throat!" I will press on in fear and trembling.
One of the things that Perry explains to those of us with smaller churches (or no church at all) is that Jesus was in the experience creating business:
One of the things I have realized in reading Scripture though is that Jesus was far from boring–He created experiences for His followers–experiences that they NEVER forgot…do you remember…
And just like Jesus, Perry gathers his team together to creatively plan their spectacles services.
Today I sat in a room for two hours as our creative team talked about the next several Sunday’s. We spent around 10-15 minutes on how to conclude the sermon for the 17th of this month…we are serious about Sunday’s and the experience that is created for people coming in these doors.
I can just see Jesus gathering his team around him.
Jesus: OK guys. Any suggestions for what we do next. I’ve done the water into wine thing, helped you guys catch a boat-load of fish and calmed a storm that was freaking you all out. What are we going to do to wow the crowd next.
Simon Peter: I’da know. What about maybe walking on the water. That would be totally amazing.
Various disciples: That would rock…Totally cool…how could we capture it?
James: Or what if you spoke to a big crowd, say 4 or 5,000 people. The only food was a loaf of bread and a few fish. But everybody left filled to the brim…with food left over.
Various disciples: We could call your sermon "Feed Your Need"…yah, or "Five Ways to Come Empty but Leave Filled."
John: You know what would completely blow people’s minds…what if you raised someone from the dead. And I don’t mean just recently dead…but somebody who’d been in the grave for three days…somebody already stinking.
Various disciples: You’re creepin’ me out, John…My stomach kinda reacts to bad smells…Couldn’t you be a little less earthy, John?
Judas: whatever we do, we can’t forget the offering. We need money to keep this thing going, people.
Hang on. I’m sorry. This is really bad exegesis on my part. There is absolutely no scriptural indication that Jesus ever had this kind of discussion with his disciples. Not an iota. I’m really sorry. (Other than Judas talking about money, perhaps.)
What we do know is that Jesus went off to spend a lot of time talking to his Father. And to attempt to write that conversation would probably be blasphemous, eh! But since he only did what his Dad showed him to do, do you ever think he asked "What next?"
Perry further helps us understand his methods by playing the Hollywood card:
Seriously–I believe people should look more forward to church that they do 24, Lost, or American Idol. WOW…there’s something…those shows actually put hard work and effort into their programming…and it shows! Hmmm, maybe if the church was as serious as Hollywood in reaching people…we would be reaching people.
That’s right, Perry. Whenever I want to look at people who build depth and substance into relationships, I look to Hollywood. People who experience what Hollywood produces have more joy in their lives, their marriages last longer and they even have fresher breathe. Who could want anything more?
Now I doubt Perry will have time to read this post as he’s "off to catch my flight…our video crew is on our way to a place where we will be working to create an experience for our Christmas services". But I will leave you with what I think Perry is really saying to the church – in the immortal words of the Little Rascals, "Hey Gang, let’s put on a show!"
And if you want to help Perry out, perhaps you could send him a copy of this book.
UPDATE: Perry has responded to this post by email and he and I are beginning a dialogue. I’ll post on it, if appropriate. Some folk are quite upset about my "attack" and I will respond to that, as well. (Please note that I don’t agree it was an "attack".)