a new hope for amateur church

27 01 2012

If you’re a fan of Star Wars, then you’ll love the brand-new crowd-sourced fan film just released online – in normal-speak, that’s where Star Wars nerds made their own versions of scenes in the film, using actors, cardboard cut-outs, puppets and anything else they could find, sent them in to Darth Vader and he cut hundreds of 15 second clips from them to make the whole film. It is random, disjointed, painful to watch but also brilliant, and mesmerising, for perhaps the same reason.

I love the idea of fans – people who love something – being asked to make it themselves. Instead of being passive consumers of the latest Blu-Ray DVD Extended Directors Cut Olympic Edition, you get involved yourself. Yes, of course it won’t match the professionals; it won’t pass for 3-D when it’s made from a cardboard box. But it’s yours!

It reminded me a bit of when we as Christians go to “Big Events” to see professional musicians & talkers at conferences and things like Spring Harvest or New Wine or whatever is your chosen flavour, get all immersed in the wonder of the Hillsong gas-light anthem with 1000 beautiful people on stage smiling about how Jesus made them all shiny and new… and then try and recreate it in our home church with Marjorie and her 83 year old piano. To be honest, it’s a bit,well, crowd-sourced. It’s a fan film. It’s not going to win an award. But it’s real.

We don’t expect it to be brilliant. It isn’t. But that’s the church. You work with what you’ve got. Jesus came and invited us to follow him, to worship him, and he did away with Professional Worshippers who do it for you, like High Priests. So, you’re not meant to get a glossy show, which is why I am suspicious when I do.

Even the C of E, for all our dodgy theology about priesthood, is crowd-sourced. The reason there is no C of E press office is because we are a collection of diocese who agree to work together. There is no-one ‘in charge’, which is why what Rowan says is not the ‘official’ party line. It’s just his.

May we the church forever be crowd-sourced, the best ever fan film, made by people who love Jesus and spend our time worshiping him because we love him. We won’t be shiny and glossy, there’ll definitely be some visible editing cuts, jerky cameras and accidental comedy moments. But you’ll love watching it.

And better, you’ll love being a part of it. 


soft-furnishing the death star

18 05 2011

Carpet shops have a peculiar atmosphere. You walk to the door all chirpy thinking of lovely new carpets, and as soon as you enter, the atmosphere hits you. If boredom had a smell, this is it. If tedium was a aroma, this is it. If the Death Star has a lounge, this is where they bought they’re soft furnishings.

Ok, I exaggerate. No-one goes to a carpet shop all chirpy.

And the Death Star doesn’t have a lounge.

they wanted carpets. it ended badly.

When we last moved, we had to re-carpet the entire house. Not a very exciting way to spend a lot of money. And you’d think it would be easy to choose. Once we’d decided we wanted a neutral, non-patterned, hard-wearing, mid-range ‘sort of beige’, I’d hoped we’d walk in and see it before the aroma of rolled piles sucked the life out of me.

But suddenly the subtle nuances of pattern changes seem to matter. This one is too dark. This one too light. This weave is too tight. This one is a bit rough. When you’re in the shop, the tiniest things become insanely important.

There is a huge difference between being in the shop, and being outside the shop.

How many churchy arguments take on so much significance because people spend too much time in the shop? So much time that the tiniest details become insanely important.

People outside the shop don’t really care about the thickness of your pile or the tightness of your weave. People outside the church don’t really care about most of the things we end up bickering about. So let’s learn from them. 

Don’t let the carpet shop suck the life out of you. Breathe the Holy Spirit. Breathe life.

Time to stop before I go any further up the metaphorical cul-de-sac of comparing anything churchy with different shades of beige.

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