I think the most powerful performances of any kind are by those with battle scars of some kind. The injured athlete, the wounded soldier, the truly tortured artist. The talented folks who haven’t had to bleed for something important behind the scenes are noticeably arrogant. It’s true in churches too.

I’m still thinking about the circus, and the comparisons that were made instantly in my head with production value in church services. The thing is, the only noticeable scars behind the circus performance were hours of hard work and practice. A great thing in it’s own right, but you won’t find me dying for it. If those in Cirque du Soleil show weakness, they lose credibility. In church, in a lot of ways it’s those who don’t show weakness that lose credibility. Those without battle scars aren’t proven, and are hard to trust. Rightfully so.

Part of the Christian identity is that our weaknesses show God’s strength, our great sins and failures expose the depths of a great war being fought on our behalf to defeat our sin, the Gospel. Our corporate gatherings are important in order to highlight that, but often it gets missed, and a lot of times we highlight talent. We make idols of gifts we have in place of the God who gave them to us. We focus on the entertainment value of our gifts, and not their value to the mission of God, to make disciples and plant churches.

All indications from Scripture are that when Jesus returns, it’s going to be quite a show. He’ll have center stage, and everything he does will be perfect. He’ll be finishing the war. The war that will end all wars. He’ll have something else too, scars on his hands, his feet, and his side.

Jesus leads with his battle scars exposed, are we?


I went to a circus for the first time in a long time yesterday. Cirque du Soleil to be exact. It was quite a performance. It got me thinking about some things, including church.

Every church is part circus. There is a performance. There is a stage, an audience, sometimes even a literal spotlight. Some have a small circus, others a huge one. Whether or not a church aims to entertain, all aim to create or facilitate some kind of collective experience around central themes, namely Jesus and his life, death and resurrection. There are ways of doing this right, and ways of doing it wrong, and there are many debates as to the best way to define those things.

This is natural, something rooted in the nature of a creative God who created us in His image. It’s reflective of Him to perform beautifully, and I believe it’s appropriate to aim high for production value in churches. However, it’s not all there is. Church is not all circus, and those that are ultimately prove too shallow to grasp Jesus in all His glory. There is more to church, and the wide range of gifts the Holy Spirit gives the children of God than performances.

There is more than a circus, there is also a war…

Anything worth doing, is worth doing well. Anything we really want to do, and believe is worth doing well, is worth building a team to get it done. Chances are you can’t do it yourself, and you may not possess the skills to actually do most of the work. But you may be the person to make sure it happens, whatever it is.

For me, right now that’s Children’s Ministry. Loving kids and wanting to teach them about Jesus isn’t enough to lead around 120 kids and 60 volunteers to make a healthy ministry, where children and volunteers are discipled to know, be like and be on mission with Jesus, where it’s secure, where the systems for volunteer recruiting and training and scheduling are solid, and where its actually a fun kid-friendly place to be. That takes no less than love and desire, but it takes a lot more too. Primarily, that “more” it takes, is a team.

It takes work. Work that I don’t have the time and energy to do myself. It’s been amazing to see people step up, to respond to vision (make disciples of Jesus who make more disciples), to fall into needed roles, to have new roles created and filled to solve problems. I’m still in the middle of it. But this is the big lesson I’m learning. Even though it’s hard, I can see the Gospel in it. I can see the gifts God gives His people coming to life and bearing fruit. There’s a theology to team building, and it’s wrapped up in Jesus saving His church to do good works, and giving them the gifts to join Him on His mission. I like that. That’ll preach. It’s preaching to me. I hope it preaches to you.