Written by cycleguy on October 21st, 2014

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The Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If we are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. C.S. Lewis 

So begins the chapter in Matthew’s book curiously titled “Jesus-Centered Flower Committee.” I have to admit I raised an eyebrow or two with that title wondering what in the world he was getting into. Honestly, the first couple pages didn’t reveal to me what he was talking about either. It wasn’t until I was about six pages in that I began to catch what Matt was referring to. Of all things it was found in a story about Van Halen. When Van Halen was in their hey day they traveled with nine semis of equipment. So it was absolutely essential the venue where they were to perform be prepared. So they had a rider in their contract: a bowl of M&Ms with NO brown ones. David Lee Roth wrote that if he walked into a dressing room before a show and noticed brown M&Ms, he immediately ordered a line check. It spoke to them of a venue not prepared for their show.

Attention to details. Small details tell a lot. Many churches pay no attention to details…big or small. The lack of preparation is glaring. I realize there can be a fine line between obsessiveness and excellence, but preparation is a necessity. “Flying by the seat of our pants’ is not a good practice for a church to get into. It can often become a substitute word for laziness.

My take: when people come to OVCF to worship or to visit, I do want things to run smoothly. Glitches happen, but a regular habit of things happening does not bode well. Musicians who have not practiced and think all they have to do is show up is not preparation, nor is it giving the best you have. A pastor who says on a weekly basis “I didn’t have time to study so…” or “I don’t study I wait for God to reveal the sermon to me” is saying, “I am lazy and don’t want to study so I’m taking the blame God way out.” Sorry that doesn’t fly with me. That is also MHO.

The flip side of this is the necessity for allowing the Spirit to move and work. We can be programmed to death and on such a tight schedule that if the Holy Spirit did show up He would have to make an appointment.

What is your take on this? Where is the line between too much prep and not enough?


24 Comments so far ↓

  1. floyd says:

    That’s a fine line to be sure, and I know for sure that if we’re not seeking our Father diligently in our spirit that line will be absolutely invisible to the fallen flesh gazing only with the mere miracle of an eyeball…

  2. the Old Adam says:

    We need to be faithful to the Word. So we must know it…study it…and the preacher must preach it.

    In that Word…the Spirit will do what It will do…to the hearer that encounters it.

    • cycleguy says:

      Absolutely correct Stephen. That is one of my main problems with the “no time to study” idea often passed off or “I allow the Spirit to reveal what He wants me to say so I didn’t study” approach.

  3. I think if you get caught up in obsessing in too many things like your delivery and when you speak louder or softer over the word, then you have a problem. Spending too much time in the word preparing? Probably no such thing.

  4. Daniel says:

    I don’t know where the line is usually until after the event is over. Then I can see with clearer vision what I should have done differently (if anything).

  5. Kari Scare says:

    Let the Spirit lead your preparation and your delivery. God will show you when you’ve prepared enough. Good preparation shows in the ability to be flexible in the delivery. I’m amazed at how much better I can adapt to “glitches” the better prepared I am. Relying on the Spirit starts way before the actual delivery, that’s for sure.

    • cycleguy says:

      I am one who prepares Kari. I spend hours studying, trying to allow God to inspire me as I study. When Sunday rolls around I don’t want to bore them nor do I want to “WOW” them. I do want the Spirit to work though and not get in the way.

  6. Sharon says:

    That is a fine line, Bill. And in my experience, any *fine lines* in my life must be drawn by the Holy Spirit! As far as the tug/pull between obsessiveness and carelessness, I think it’s still all about God. We should be diligent in our preparation, for God does indeed deserve our best. If we’re going to be good representatives for Him, we’d better be shiny in our reflection. That being said, if we’re concentrating too much on the *shine*, then we can become enamored with the shine and forget about reflecting.

    In all things, we need help!

    Reminded of this verse:

    “…for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13, NIV)



    • cycleguy says:

      I like that analogy of the “shine” Sharon. It strikes at the performance angle vs. worship angle. Always an intriguing balance to discuss. I’ll def say AMEN to your comment about needing help. Thanks for coming by! Going by your place.

  7. … and then there are those pockets of leadership where the focus has morphed into an obsession with numbers.

    and the relationships get left behind …

    God, keep us focused on what is most important. And show us how to do it well.

  8. My view (and experience) is that the more I am prepared, the more relaxed and ready I am to move with whatever the Holy Spirit wants to do. Preparation doesn’t HAVE to take the place of His Spirit’s leading, but lack of preparation doesn’t make room for Him either. Now, certainly there have been times where I or someone else wasn’t as prepared as desired/needed and grace prevailed. I would rather treat that as God’s goodness, not a standard of practice. It begins to feel like “testing God” to me, which if I remember correctly is not such a great idea. 🙂 Good thoughts, Bill. Thanks.

    • cycleguy says:

      I like that idea Jason: “the more prepared I am the more relaxed and ready I am…” I am all for preparation but am not above changing a sermon if I sense God is saying to do so. Have done it several times before. Like you, not preparing sounds a bit like “testing God” to me as well.

  9. TC Avey says:

    A friend of mine serves with her husband as youth ministers at their church. She was telling me that at the staff meeting they’ve been discussing how to be a church who allows God to move but also provides structure. She pointed out that many churches lean one way or the other. Some get so “Spirit” focused (wanting the Spirit to move and direct) that they end up feeding/ministering to mature Christians who attend regularly but end up ignoring new Christians needs/overlooking visitors who many not understand the Spirit moving.
    On the flip side, there are churches who have their programs scheduled down to the last minute and forget to allow God to move or make changes to the direction of the day.

    Anyway, it’s certainly interesting dynamics.

    • cycleguy says:

      That tightrope is always there TC. Structure vs. freedom. i wonder if we can have structured freedom or freedom structured. 🙂 As you put it always interesting dynamics.

  10. Desert Jim says:

    I live in the land of the mega church. I am confident that EVERY detail in their worship service is well planned as well as everything else that a person experiences driving and walking on their campus. I believe the Spirit has a chance to move there just as much as in a church that might be able to take some freedoms during the service. I have seen the work the Spirit has done in their people.

    If the Flower Committee is not Jesus Centered, there should be no flowers in church! Too many committees exist for the benefit of the people in the committee.

    • cycleguy says:

      I hope I was not misunderstood DJ. I do believe God’s Spirit can move in even the most programmed of churches, but they must be willing to allow it if it happens. But I most definitely agree with your last statement. We tend to have too many committees that exist for no reason than to exist. Thanks for your thoughts.

  11. Steve says:

    I’m chiming in from my perspective as an adult SS teacher, teaching from the Bible as opposed to curricula/other books. For me, prep is study and prayer. Study is equipping me with various knowledge/revelation that God might want me to speak to others. As the speaking date nears, the prepping becomes much more heavily prayer as I’m asking God what He wants me to say and how He wants me to say it. (as in John 12:49) I mostly agree with the person who said there is no such thing as too much prep. But, for me, I realize there can be the wrong kind of prep. That is, I can study and teach others and it be a fleshly work (as opposed to Spirit-led). In other words, in preparation, if I don’t pay enough attention to prayer and asking/hearing what God wants me to say, then the “prep” is all for naught, because I usually end up speaking words that speak to people’s heads as opposed to speaking words that go to their hearts.

    • cycleguy says:

      Understand what you are saying Steve. We can choose to study and allow the Spirit to lead the study and the teaching or we can study and then take matters in our own hands. It works better the former way. 🙂 thanks.

  12. Ed says:

    “…but preparation is a necessity.”
    you can only prepare up to a certain point. The church shouldn’t be a mechanical unit. As a church body we have emotions and feelings that can come out at anytime. Sure, we can “follow the program. Yet when God leads we have to break from said programd and worship in spirit and in truth…always in truth!

    • cycleguy says:

      I agree Ed and that is what I always want to be open to…allowing God’s Spirit to have His way. put aside a planned sermon if necessary. Have an impromptu prayer time if led to do so (I did this about 4 weeks ago). But you are also right…always in truth.