American Idol!

American Idol

American Idol

I would speculate that there is no one reading this who hasn’t heard about the cultural phenomenon called “American Idol.”  A multi-month talent show, designed to find the most talented singer in the United States of America who has not been discovered yet.  Thousands line up at each location across the nation to offer their vocal charm to the entire world.  This year four judges sat behind a table and would critique the performance of the contestant.  More often than not the critique drew harsh words and tears.  Every now and then the critique would draw tears of joy and a special, gold piece of paper that would be that contestant’s ticket to the next round in Hollywood.  Personally, my favorite part of the entire show is the first two weeks when the contestants who are terrible singers arrive and display their non-talent.  The judges (Simon Cowell) quickly remind them that they are talentless swine and they should be selling hot dogs on the street corner, not singing.  It’s always funny to hear someone say what you are thinking.

While there are many culturally significant pieces to this show that the church could probably learn from, I want to share the one that I think about more often than not.  In most churches I am what they call a Senior Pastor or Preaching Pastor.  In essence, I am the person who does the main teaching at our church on a Sunday morning and I also lead in the vision casting for the church.  How is it that one can go from a position like this to feeling like they are a contestant on a game show?

One week the comments are really bringing some high praise; “That was a great sermon preacher.  You really nailed that one.  You mailed it in.  We really needed to hear that.  Just keep those coming.  Wow, are you listening in on our conversations at home?”  This week’s performance was good.  You passed with the judges and have lived to see another week behind the pulpit.  Yet other weeks are different.  There are little to no comments.  But the more vocal judges, the Simon Cowell’s of the church say things like, “What did we do wrong to get a sermon like that?  He sure is all about hellfire and brimstone this week?  He sure didn’t hit on any of my spiritual needs this week.  Where in the world did that come from?  Did he even study this week?”  This week’s performance is bad.  The judges are upset.  Your future rounds behind the pulpit are suddenly in jeopardy.

When did the church begin judging the usefulness on their pastors on their performance?  Maybe it has always been that way to some extent.  I would say that the church’s focus is extremely skewed by this perspective.  Church is about transformed lives and people growing to become more like Christ, impacting their communities with the hope and grace of Jesus Christ.  So why isn’t the evaluation of a church based on the amount of transformed lives?  Why is it so much about the performance of a pastor?  The church needs to get out of the American Idol mindset and back into the changed lives mindset.  If our focus isn’t on changed lives then we simply fail to be what Christ died for us to become.



About Stan Rodda

Follower. Husband. Father. Shepherd. Apostle. Husker.

Posted on May 6, 2009, in Church, discipleship, Family, Leadership, music and entertainment, Ramblings, the culture. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. As long as we are on this earth we will need to learn from life’s lessons. Sometimes the message comes through loud and clear while other times we miss the boat entirely; however, I truly believe God is always trying to teach us through our life choices, actions and experiences. Sometimes we can’t “get it” on our own. Maybe other times God sends a friend or relative to help guide us. But I will always take the lessons from a man of God seriously. (what is that verse?! Honoring/not questioning a man of God?)

    Honestly, at times, I have listened to sermons by various servants of the Lord and thought, “Wow! I wish so-n-so could hear this one!” and then, the Holy Spirit prompts ME to reflect inwardly on the message God is sending ME. Ma 7:1 Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

    As we sit in the pews, we can be encouraged, prompted, enlightened, reminded, praised and even rebuked. Yes! As a parent, correction is not a fun job but necessary in the proper development of our children. Are we God’s children? Are we perfect? I hope to never become so proud that I think I have mastered any area of my Christian walk.

    I thank the Lord for my church family and it’s leaders. I know I don’t say it enough, but: Good job, Stan! I really enjoyed the message Sunday! A good word in due season! As you stated at the beginning of the message, I don’t know if anyone has mastered forgiveness as Jesus.

    I generally don’t like to put my thoughts out there for everyone to critique, but wanted to show my full support.

  2. culturalawakening

    Well thanks Beth. I really appreciate that. I appreciate your honesty and I must agree with you as well. We will never have it mastered, but it is something we keep striving toward. You may be thankful for your church family, but we are thankful for your family. Thanks for being a part of things. And thanks for checking out my blog. 😀

  3. Statement in the American Idol Blurb — “Church is about transformed lives and people growing to become more like Christ, impacting their communities with the hope and grace of Jesus Christ.”

    Without changed lives and changed communities their is no church, there is simple religion, and religion accomplishes nothing. We are no different than the denominations if we are going to church just to be religious. To transform lives we must have a pure and true relationship with God. For you see this next generation says I don’t want religion I want a relationship, and I want something that is true, and pure. I believe the New Testament we were told to go and tell with our words and with our lives, and we cannot simply say come and see my religion but instead let me show you my relationship.

    I am so broken and so sinful in the presence of God, and it amazes me how in the same instance because of his presence I am healed and a vessel that can be used. My prayer is that I am being the church in my speech and in my actions. Not always easy and never being religious.

    My desire is to change lives and not just to practice religion.

  4. I’ve been there.
    I’ve come into the office on a monday morning, still exhausted from a weekend of working 20 hour days for the church, and sorted through stacks of comment cards (from the same folks who leave comment cards every week), occasionally good, mostly complaints, and wondered what I was doing wrong to have people so upset, and why should I even bother staying for another week? I’ve heard everything from “your guitar hurts my ears” to “you aren’t excited enough when you make announcements” to “I was insulted by the second point in your sermon”. I even have one that said my eyebrow ring was a disgrace to the pulpit (I have that one framed above my desk at home). I couldn’t have a tailgate party at the high school before the homecoming game because I was promoting drinking and I once got a speeding ticket and was accused of doing donuts on a playground.
    I came to realize that I wasn’t the one who was off track. There are people who look for reasons to complain, who look for things they can twist and turn into something hurtful or slanderous. Some people are never happy at best, and always angry at worst.
    We have raised congregations of consumers. Flocks who regard their shepherd as their employee instead of their protector, educator and guide. If the sermon doesn’t make them warm and fuzzy they complain. If something doesn’t happen as they would like they accuse. If the pastor steps up and holds them accountable to scripture they usually just fire him and hire someone less secure in his position.
    I once told a highschool student he had to stop sleeping with his girlfriend. He told his dad (an elder) that I hated him and of course there was a special elder’s meeting about why I was abusive toward the students. Consumers.
    In the new testament, when the pastor spoke the people listened. In America they critique and complain and use up Gods men until they find someone willing to let them live as they please and make them feel good about it.
    It isn’t the job of the pastor to make the people happy or make them feel good about themselves. THEY are not his judge, God is. The pastor preaches the gospel no matter how people feel about it. The pastor holds people accountable for their sin, he demands repentance and disciplines people purposefully living against new testament principals. He pours himself into the Kingdom. If people complain the pastor should talk with another godly man, an Elder and check himself through the lens of scripture, change what needs to change and confront what needs to be confronted.
    …maybe i’m crazy…

  5. culturalawakening

    You’re dead on Ryan. I (Misty and I) have experienced nearly the identical situation you are talking about. You have put it into really good terms. That’s exactly what has happened and it is becoming increasingly difficult to reverse that mindset. The more they consume, the more they want. It’s a vicious cycle. We used to get “notes” in the offering plate, as if it was that particular person’s gift to the church to complain about something. Every week it was something else. “You weren’t wearing a suit jacket, the music is too loud,” etc and blah blah blah. I finally started throwing those away and presented them with a “suggestion form.” This had a line for their name, because all the previous notes were anonymous of course. A line for their name, a line for their “suggestion” and a spot to give us the biblical reasoning for making the suggested change. Want to know how fast we stopped getting notes in the offering plate? That next week. We told them we were throwing them away, and if they wanted to leave us a note, here was how. Incomplete forms, thrown away. It stopped the notes, but not the behind the scenes stuff.
    And you’re definitely not crazy. It seems to be at epidemic proportions. It’s very sad and very scary what the church has become and is becoming. I’m with you man.

  6. …and if they still don’t like it, they can just start going to the church down the road… unless, of course, they’re already there, in which case you should preach one last sermon and get out of Dodge! 😉

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