When ‘amazing’ becomes mediocrity

A long time ago my dad posted on his blog about the importance of critical thinking in an organization. His point was simple: don’t confuse critical thinking with negativity. You can read his post here: http://tinyurl.com/6d9al2d . We were having a conversation about this recently, and after I explained my opinions on the issue he said, “there’s a blog post”. So bouncing off of his post, I’ll give you the rest of our conversation about this.

I follow a lot of pastors and ministry leaders on Twitter, and throughout the week it’s common to see lots of tweets like, “getting ready for (insert name of ministry) on Sunday, it’s going to be amazing, you don’t wanna miss it! (insert link of church website).” Then on Sunday afternoon tweets like this start flowing in: “Incredible day at (insert name of ministry) today! We have the BEST volunteers in the world!”

Now, on the surface, that’s probably a really good thing. They’re building momentum for Sunday, which is very good, and then they’re celebrating afterward because what’s celebrated is repeated. Here’s what sometimes irritates me, though: If you say that every single week is “amazing”… then you belittle the standard for “amazing”. The reality of life is that some days are better than others. Church services are no exception. If after every single camp, student retreat, worship service, small group sign-up, service project… etc. the church staff is saying it was “amazing”, then pretty soon “amazing” is normal, which isn’t amazing.

In order to accurately evaluate and critique, an organization has to be open to the fact that some things aren’t amazing. In church world, that means that some services aren’t amazing. It takes some boring strikeouts and singles to make triples and home runs so exciting. If the same person posts on Facebook  about how great church was every single week, I don’t believe them anymore. If Christmas was everyday it wouldn’t be a big deal.

Claiming something to be amazing as a routine is the same thing as mediocrity. Application: Commit to being amazing, but admit when something’s not amazing, in order to add credibility to what is amazing.

How do you manage this tension?

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7 comments

  1. Great thoughts, and I definitely agree! I think it is also important to define what an “amazing” service is. I’ve been in many services where the music was much more dull than the usual, and the preaching was ok, but less than par, but God still did an amazing work in spite of those things. We must be careful not to define “amazing” as a service with fantastic music and the most eloquent speaking. Many times, even when the surface of a service is seemingly “amazing”, the people in that service are less than moved. Amazing is when God’s spirit moves through the people, often in spite of our own shortcomings, as well as the times when everything seems dead on. Again, great thoughts!

    1. Thanks for the comment, Ryan. I couldn’t agree more that God is ultimately the one who defines what’s amazing. I actually almost put some of that in the post, but I’m trying to keep as concise as possible. Glad you shared some thoughts and took the conversation further!

  2. Great post Nate. Reminds me of what Doug Fields said at Orange last week. He basically said he’d like to see more honest tweets from Pastors on Sunday – like “Our service was boring, the worship team stunk.” “No one made any commitments.” “My message was terrible, it put everyone to sleep.”

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