I've been doing a lot of reading and listening to sermons and the like of late. I've also been reflecting a lot on the body of Christ, the church.
When in Kampala, I attended a huge church that does really wonderful work for vulnerable women and children. I was struck by the professionality of everything presented, from the stage dressing to the music to the alternate video shots broadcast onto the large screen over the stage. There were professional quality video announcements, and the 70 or so person choir wore perfectly matching outfits. On huge banners on either side of the stage were listed the core values of the church, including Excellence. I suppose one could understand that to mean any number of things. From what I was presented as a guest, I would assume that they mean excellence in their presentation and professionality, although I could be wrong.
I got to thinking about that, however, and it's stuck with me. I heard a talk from a pastor called Jimmy Dorrell in Texas whose church meets under a bridge. Their worship team stands on the back of a flatbed trailer, and when a mentally ill man named Patick asked to join the worship team, they bent over backward to accomodate him. He gets easily distracted and tended to interfere with the other musicians, so they built him his own kind of box stage to stand on, gave him an electric guitar with two strings, and let him go. He sometimes jumps down to greet visitors, have a cigarette, or get some coffee, but they really emphasis the value of each member of the church serving as their member of the body.
There is a man in the choir at my church in Dodoma who reminds me of the diverse members of the body of Christ. The choir is really good, they have choreographed dances for each of their songs, and they usually mostly match their clothing, but not always. This new man in the choir, though, doesn't have the matching outfits, he's still learning the songs, and he simply cannot do the choreography, but he sings with such joy and dedication it brings tears to my eyes. As much as I love listening to the choir, I have never been pointed to God so poignantly as by this wonderful young blind man. To me, his participation in the body of Christ is so much more reminiscent of the values of the kingdom of Heaven than any definition of excellence which might keep him humming in the back row.