The Least of These
This past weekend, I went to a church sound training workshop in Arlington, VA. The 9-hour training was superb and I highly recommend it to anyone who is involved with sound reinforcement at church. The instructor for the course had an extensive background, including running audio at Merriweather Post Pavillion and for Obama’s inauguration, and was an excellent teacher. Really, really good stuff and highly recommended. I generally enter any christian training with some hesitation as they can be an extended sales pitch as much as usable information…and there was some of that since there were numerous sponsors for the class, but by and large, he presented information that is beneficial for people running a simple/cheap setup as much as for people running massive, pro-level systems.
One thing the instructor noted has resonated with me until this morning: he didn’t cite specific sources, but he said that sound reinforcement is a $9B industry, and 1/3 of that ($3B!) is from churches and houses of worship. $3 billion! To put that figure into perspective, $3B is greater than the nominal GDPs of countries ranked 154-190 in 2009, or put another way, houses of worship consume almost as much on audio equipment as countries like Zimbabwe and Mongolia output. Again, those numbers weren’t cited, nor does a web search produce any relevant results, but it’s safe to say houses of worship spend a lot of money on audio equipment.
How did we get from Jesus speaking to thousands on hillsides with no meals provided to elaborate setups that are professional productions with gourmet food served in the full-service cafe in the lobby? This also brings to mind the question: would Jesus be successful on college campuses today, where students won’t come hear you speak unless they’re offered free pizza? 😛 But I digress. I’ve been alive for less than 1% of the time since the days of Jesus, so it’s safe to say my thoughts on this history couldn’t be more ignorant nor do I have any definitive conclusions regarding this subject.
So that makes me completely unqualified to write anything remotely authoritative on this subject, but thanks to the Web, my mediocre, largely incoherent rantings and ignorance can be spread to you, my faithful readers. 😛
My concern with this entire issue is whether or not I am taking the Lord’s name in vain. Typically, that commandment is thought of when someone shouts, JESUS H. CHRIST! Or God [dang]it! But as with most commandments, such as thou shall not commit adultery, it goes much deeper. Personally, to not take the Lord’s name in vain is to represent Him rightly. If I were to declare that He hates [gays] ([ ] used b/c that’s usually not the term used in that phrase), I believe I misrepresent Him b/c He doesn’t hate the person, He hates the sin. If I were to declare that everyone will go to heaven, I misrepresent Him b/c He said He is the only way, and I minimize the lengths to which God went to make a way for us.
So when a non-believer sees a Senate probe into opulent spending in several ministries, how does that represent Christ? When tax-exempt entities spend billions in a seeming effort to keep up with recent trends in other houses of worship, how will people view christianity and ultimately, Christ? When I am following a God who had no place to rest His head and had compassion on those considered lowly in society, should I spend the majority of my resources on my own comfort and pleasure?
Yes, good sound and excellence is important and certainly have their place…but I’m going to keep my eyes fixed on what I can do for the least of these, b/c His eyes are – and I want to represent that rightly.
40“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ – Matthew 25