Perception and the Church

by Lee Buford on October 27, 2010

How do you address perceptions in your life? How do you assess the validity of the perceptions others have? What do you do about them?

It’s likely that you’ve seen the following video on church planting by now. I saw it for the first time last week and, to be honest with you, I watched it several times in a row because it’s downright hilarious. If you haven’t seen it I encourage you take three minutes to watch it now. If you know anything about, or have experienced church planting in any way, you will appreciate the effort.

The video has bounced around relentlessly on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms for days, each sharing accompanied by an opinion or perception of the video and its message. It is, after all, a video perception come to life on the screen. For the most part the responses and impressions I’ve seen and heard label it funny, clever, and spot on in most areas. In fact, the folks who seem to enjoy it the most are those directly involved in church planting in some form or fashion.

The question is, “why?” In my opinion (perception) it’s because much of it is true, right or wrong. It’s a case where much of the perception is consistent with the reality of our experience. Everybody gets a chuckle out of it because they can relate. They’ve seen it up close. So what do you do with it, especially if you’re a church planter or someone considering planting a church?

Watch it…several times. Think about it. Question it. In fact, here are a few questions you should probably answer for yourself, relative to your own experience and/or plans and goals in church planting:

  • Are the perceptions consistent with what I’ve seen and experienced, good and bad?
  • Why is this the perception?
  • If the perception is valid is it also glorifying to God?
  • Is it biblical or human in nature and purpose?
  • Does it further the cause of making disciples and building the Church?

I ask you to ponder these questions because so much of what we do in modern times is replication. We see what appears to be working for someone else and assume that’s the key to success, especially if we like what we see. We also do things out of our prideful nature as a means to glorify our own fleshly desires and idols. We migrate towards the path of least resistance…down the road most travelled.

But we must remember that there is no path of least resistance where following Jesus is concerned, and there certainly isn’t one when it comes to making disciples and building churches. Our ideas and plans for our buildings, our worship music, and our attire have absolutely ZERO IMPACT on the purposes of God where our efforts are not motivated and carried out in the power of the Holy Spirit.

We can all wear cool jeans, rock out on Sundays to a band, and make little impact on the Kingdom of God in the process. We can also achieve the same degree of failure in suits while singing from hymnals if that’s our desire. In either case, we can rest assured that the same perceptions highlighted in the video above were certainly not a factor in the Book of Acts. However, the same God Paul was serving is the same God we’re serving today, and the same gospel he was preaching is the same gospel that’s breathing life into the dead among us today.

At the end of the day God’s work is not accomplished through our views and human perceptions relative to our church buildings, dress, music, and style; but it can be hindered by them. What’s the perception of what you’re doing?

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