Monday, August 12, 2013

The Gospel of Michael Jr.

This past weekend I attended some of the Willow Creek, "Global Leadership Summit" in a satellite location here in Colorado Springs.  As usual, the speeches were riveting, and exceptionally helpful.  However, one side act caught my attention almost more than any of the others.  His name was Michael Junior and he was a stand up comedian from Houston area.

In addition to being hilariously funny, Michael told the audience that he had had a major change of heart with regard to his comedy routine, when he discovered one critical and life changing shift in his own performance style.  Michael said that when he began performing his main goal was to GET laughs from an audience (in other words it was about himself, and laughs were something that could be attained through a certain set of routine maneuvers).  Michael said that his big change and big success moment came when he changed his comedic mission to HELP the audience laugh together (in other words, to be the facilitator of the group, who wanted to laugh).

As I have been thinking about it, the same basic principle can be applied to ministry at all levels.  The basic purpose for a preacher is not to GET the congregation to respond to God, the basic purpose for a preacher is to HELP the congregation to discover God in their midst.  The basic purpose for a Sunday school teacher is not to GET the class to know more about a subject matter, the purpose is to HELP the group arrive at wisdom together.  Again, not to belabor the point, but the basic purpose for a good meeting is not to GET the group to arrive at a fixed decision that is pre-determined, the basic purpose is to HELP the group to arrive at truth together.

What was remarkable was to see how utterly relaxed Michael Junior was in his performance.  He really seemed not to care too much whether the audience laughed at him, but he seemed genuinely interested in facilitating a good feeling within the audience that erupted in laughter.  The weight of the performance is not on the speaker, or the comedian, but the audience.  Soren Kierkegaard once said that  on a Sunday morning, the usual idea is that the pastor is the performer, the congregation is the audience, and God is the observer. Instead, Kierkegaard said, it should be that the pastor is the conductor, the congregation is the performer, and God is the audience.

It would seem that Michael Junior and Soren Kierkegaard have a lot in common.  Both men see their main body of work less about self, and more about other...and that's why they're great!

All For Now,

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