“I have a friend named Tom who pastors a church over in Ohio. Every so often we visit on the phone. He tell me his latest thoughts on church growth, Tom has a lot of ideas concerning church growth, none of which seem to take hold. This past year, he was betting on mimes to pack in the crowds.
The idea came to him during worship. “If you have mimes, they will come!” a voice whispered. So at the next meeting of elders, he talked about bringing gospel truth and revival through the ministry of miming. These elders are nice people, which is how they got to be elders. They believe in niceness, even at the expense of truth.
“Now there’s a good idea, Pastor,” they told him. “Why don’t you organize a special Sunday evening service with mimes? That’s a fine idea. We’ll look forward to that. Mimes – why didn’t we think of that?”
Tom found two mimes, set up the worship services, ran ads in the paper, brought in extra chairs, showed up early to unlock the doors, and waited for the crowds. But no one came except the mimes and Bill, the janitor. Everyone else stayed home and watched 60 minutes. They were just being nice and didn’t have the courage to tell him the truth-that a worship service with mimes was the dumbest idea they’d ever heard and they wouldn’t attend if their lives depended on it.”
One story I heard from a pastor was not so humorous, and even more harmful. During the call process, the call committee had shared with the prospective pastor the church’s desire to reach out to the community. They even shared a particular program that the church would want him launch right away. Upon accepting the call and beginning ministry at this church, the pastor immediately followed their direction and launched that mentioned community program.
It was only after he took that step that he received serious criticism from many in the church and almost lost his new position. The call committee was nice, but not truthful. That small group who gotten themselves on the committee had their own agenda that they had not been able to accomplish with the last pastor because of major opposition from most in the church.
Niceness rather than truth.
In Leviticus 19 it clearly says, “Do not lie.” My question in light of that passage is, is not telling the truth the same as lying? And in Ephesians 4:15 it says, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”
I just can’t stop without telling you more of Gulley’s story because I found it really funny. However, I have a funny sense of humor.
“As a result, Tom committed himself to telling the truth. He tells people what he thinks, whether they want to know or not. Like the lady who’s done his church’s newsletter for the past twenty years, the worst church newsletter in the kingdom of God. Tom told her he thought the newsletter needed freshening up and that she should take out the column that lists all the people who missed a Sunday. So she took it out and now she’s writing a column rating his sermons. One Bible means the sermon was bad; four Bibles means the sermon was good. According to her, Tom’s been giving a lot of one-Bible sermons lately.”
How many Bibles are your sermons?
Tom’s response also wasn’t right. So what are we to do when someone wants to use “niceness rather than truth?”
Prayer, caution and discernment are the words that come to mind.
“My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck.” (Proverbs 3:21-22)
I hope you learned a little from Tom. So that next time a little voice tells you to use mimes to proclaim the gospel, you’ll know that the little voice may not be God. Take time to pray for discernment. With discernment you can then trust the correct little voice which is from God.