Believe it or not, I have watched cooking competition shows with my wife. Doesn’t mean my next grilled cheese sandwich will have improved in the slightest, but I did learn a few things about how actually gifted chefs think about food. One perspective I remember hearing from the experts was the importance of featuring the right “hero” in the dinner preparation. Apparently its possible to bury the most valuable/important part of the meal by “featuring” other “lesser” elements. For example, if you’re cooking steak, don’t make the mashed potatoes the biggest deal from the perspective of the person you are serving. I don’t know much about cooking, but I get what they’re trying to say. When you have something truly valuable, truly important, don’t put all of your attention and focus in preparation and presentation on something less valuable.
This is actually a crucial test we should conduct in how we plan and focus our Sunday meetings as a church. Of course there are a lot of elements in a Sunday meeting–all of which will provide some benefit (hopefully!) to the gathered church and guests. We have some form of lighting, we have some form of sound amplification, we usually have some kind of decorations or signage, we have bulletins, we have scrolling announcements, we have coffee, and, at times, we even have video introductions to the sermon. Of course, compared to larger churches, our efforts in these areas are small and insignificant. But any size church must always ask the same question–are these lesser elements becoming the “hero” of our meeting in our preparation and presentation? Do we spend most of our time and attention and budget on these elements? Would a guest coming into our meeting be primarily aware of these aspects of our meeting–would they stand out as our obvious priority? Hopefully not. Whether we’re small or large, whether we have a big budget or a little budget, the Word of God must always be the hero of our meeting. We must always give the most attention to insuring that we are singing the truth of God’s Word, praying the truth of God’s Word, reading God’s Word, and especially, preaching God’s Word. And we must not deceive ourselves–what we are actually most passionate about as a church will be evident in our practice as a church. And we must not conceal this hero behind an overwhelming array of other elements. We must not bury our steak in a mound of mashed potatoes. Everything else we do should contribute to, and not distract from, the primary focus of our meeting. They should amplify, highlight, remember, and feature the centerpoint–the Word of God, and the center of that Word, the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let us make the Word the hero of our gatherings.