Church of the Little Rascals

kinnon —  December 1, 2006 — 9 Comments

Little-Rascals1-1The 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".)

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A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

9 responses to Church of the Little Rascals

  1. Bill, thanks for pointing out the reductionist approach so common in Western ecclessiologies. Amusing Orselves to Death was a great book….

  2. Perry: Read Exodus 32.

  3. There is a line in Paul Simon’s song, The Boxer, that goes, “People believe what they want to believe and disregard the rest.” Jesus may have created experiences, but not all of them were the kind that Perry Noble would probably welcome, I suspect. Two come to mind.
    One is his turning over the tables of the merchants in the temple. He intentionally created conflict in the house of God. He was a disturber and disrupter of the peace and comfort of those who called the temple their place of worship. I’m sure the rabbis loved him and asked him to speak the next Sabbath.

    Second is the story where Jesus’ mother asks him to do a little magic act a la David Blaine and produce some wine for the wedding feast. He tells her that she doesn’t know what she is asking of him, and proceeds to do what she asks, but without show or any experience contrived for effect. The purpose was to act in accordance with his father’s will without drawing attention to himself.

    There is much in the Gospel that doesn’t fit with our own self-referential paradigms. It is probably wise to be some what circumspect about all our judgments about ourselves. Because it is easy to believe what we want to believe about Jesus and me, and disregard the rest. I don’t know Perry Noble. I just know myself, and based on what he writes at his blog, I’d be scared to death of the success that he has created.

  4. I’m glad Perry’s responded to you, and I look forward to hearing more about your conversation in the future… because it seems to me that you’ve really misread him & what he says about Jesus.

  5. Rich,
    Thanks for stopping by. Please note that I responded to a post of Perry’s so perhaps you can show me how I “really misread him & what he says about Jesus.”

    I’m assuming you know Perry and really like him. My communications with him so far would suggest he’s a great guy.

    This post does not suggest otherwise. It goes after the arguments in his blog post and his scriptural exegesis – and yes I do use sarcasm and humor to make my points. I have no doubt that Perry is a much nicer person than I am.

  6. Dude,

    I really love the sarcasm and humor. Not only is it funny, but it makes the point much better. It feels like a story Jesus might tell. I’m going to have to link to this. Peace.

  7. Are you mad because God is doing something big through someone while you only have a blog where your criticize churches? Good going. I’m laughing at you, not with you.

  8. I think the greatest problem of the church today is crab mentality, don’t you think? I mean, here’s a church that reaches *thousands* of people for Christ, and the least that they need is to be criticized for *exerting* efforts for the sake of the kingdom.

    In the words of Gamaliel:”Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” Acts 5:38,39

  9. JR,
    Thanks. Really like your blog.

    Well, at least you’re laughing.

    Perry’s church wasn’t “criticized”, his argument was.


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