Tom looked at me straight. “Well? What did you think?” We were back in his house sharing a kebab, after I’d preached at the church where he’s the pastor. It’s a good, smaller church – maybe 25 people that evening.
What did I think?
I told him that he was doing a great job: the music was tight and well played by the small band, the meeting had been well-lead, with just the right balance between planning and informality, and the all words projected on the wall had been properly spelt and put in the right order. Everyone did their jobs without giving the impression of it being regimented. Everyone enjoyed being there together. I didn’t comment on the sermon
Tom. stared back. “Dead right,”he said, “those things matter.”
He’s right, but here’s the thing. What we’re aiming at is invisibility, and it’s a hard trick to pull off.
A misspelt word of the song, an unrehearsed band, the wrong date on the notice, and people start to notice it. A system which should be invisible (laptop, projector, sound system, all run by people who know what they were doing) suddenly becomes visible.
Or a background which is too flashy, technology which is too obvious – and the same thing happens. It becomes visible. It is – here’s a word to fear – slick. It draws attention to itself.
Why do we want invisibility? Because these things are tools, to support the fact that we are obeying God by listening to him and speaking and singing to him, and meeting each other to encourage and challenge. That’s why we meet. Not to admire the latest slick toy of the geeky minister, nor to get irritated by his sloppiness.
And what is invisible changes. Remember when overhead projectors were everywhere? That made them invisible. Use one today and you’ll get a comment. Tom and I both used iPads up front on Sunday. No one commented – they’ve become invisible now.
Keep your eyes on the biblical reasons we meet, and make sure that everything that supports is done as well as Tom did. Invisibly.