Choosing Your Critics

I talked to a lot of people this weekend who were very excited about the series and the service, pumped that the people they invited were in church and many who were deeply moved deeply by the faith story. While no one spoke directly to me about it, I heard rumblings through others that our service wasn't Eastery enough for some. Since we very directly focused on the resurrection, I can only surmise that we didn't include some traditional elements they would have enjoyed. And maybe we'll devise a way to include some of those elements next year without losing our missional objectives. Given our approach this year, it just wasn't a priority to figure out a way to do so.

I saw an interview with Rick Warren last night on TV. The interviewer asked him about how he responds to criticism that he mixes pop psychology with faith and that he preaches Christianity lite.

His response was that criticism has an important role in keeping people humble and in bringing correction when needed. But he added that the only way to avoid being criticized is to do nothing. In other words, simply be predictable, don't leave the comfort zone, don't take any chances, don't chase any lions.

That's true, but only partially true. It's true in the sense that if Warren had chosen to do church as usual, no one would have noticed, and he could have avoided the avalanche of criticism he faces every day for every word he writes or speaks.

But the reality is that you can't escape criticism. Do-nothings are criticized all the time. You get to choose what you will be criticized for. You get to choose who your critics will be. I choose to be criticized for chasing lions.

A few weeks ago I attended two services at Eagle Brook Church. First I attended their campus in White Bear. The message is on video there, and I enjoyed everything about the service except one thing: the electric guitars sounded muted. I'm thinking, "What's the matter with the sound booth guys. They're butchering the guitar solos." Aside from that, the music was great.

The same morning, I attended their Lino Lakes campus. They did a different music set and the electric guitars were "appropriately" screaming. I loved it. That muted sound had been such a distraction from worship. Yes, it was a distraction. The "correct" mix got rid of the distraction.

About a week later I discovered that the service we attended at the White Bear campus was "The Brook." It's designed to be a quieter version of what they do in their other services. The people that attend that service evidently love muted electric guitars. Quite possibly they find screaming guitars to be a distraction from worship.

Every week, in dozens of ways, we decide what we will be criticized for by our choices in programming our services.
Something as simple as muting electric guitar sounds or not muting them will result in criticism. At "The Brook," not having understood its purpose, I was the critic. And every week, in literally dozens of ways, our services are critiqued by those who attend. Why didn't we or why did we is on everyone's minds. It goes with the territory of living in the 21st century.

Can we all learn to criticize less and learn to seek to understand more (or to be more understanding)? Yes, beginning with me! Can we escape criticism? No. Not even by doing nothing.

But the reality is that doing nothing results in less criticism because lion chasers don't usually sit around whining or criticizing much. They move on to where they can chase lions.

So I choose to be criticized for chasing lions. I'm not deaf to critics. It's not that I'm unwilling to change or to learn. But in choosing to chase lions, I'm also choosing a fellowship of lion chasers.