There was a hearse outside the church main doors. If that wasn’t enough to jar you, as you entered for worship, in front was a lit coffin with a mirror inside the casket for you to parade past and peer inside. No, this wasn’t a funeral, it was a Sunday Morning Worship Service. In my opinion, this was one object lesson to far.
As a military wife, whose husband is currently deployed to a war zone, this object lesson was in poor taste and not well thought through. Unlike most people, I think about the realities of death everyday. Before my husband leaves, we sit down with a 15 page document and have to decide things like, where would he want to be buried, in what uniform, who would I want to tell me, would I want to be medicated… most people don’t even have a will. Dealing with the reality of death can make you ultra sensitive to symbols of it. The last place I thought I would have to worry about avoiding those symbols was Sunday Worship. I go to find refuge and strength at my church, to worship God corporately, it is my safe place to be frail before God…not be encroached upon by the most symbolic and grotesque visual props of death.
As a director, I understand how props are a visual interpretor of what is often esoteric. When used effectively, they can boil big ideas down to a salient points. I still think that a “picture” can be worth more than words. Props are in your face… or more appropriately in your eyes, and the point was made with me. The coffin and hearse made a huge impact on me; a gut turning negative one. I walked out of the sanctuary and will not return there until the series is over.
I would encourage those of you picking props to illustrate object lessons; consider the taste factor. Is it appropriate? Shock factor, or this is going to be SO COOL, is not always appropriate or wise. Stop and think about who makes up your church body. Be sensitive that your body of believers may be turned off instead of tuned in, and if that is the case, select wisely.
One last thought, if you can’t live without the prop… and you don’t feel the minotiy fall out is worth losing the majority impact, let those you feel might be hurt, insulted, horrified know what you are going to do. Spare them… let them know it’s okay to sit that service out. Yes, that requires you to go the extra mile. It requires you to stop and think before acting. It requires you to know your church membership. Please, be concerned about the one sheep while you are blazing through the other 99.