An excited young actor told his friends: “Good news! I got another callback for that commercial. My agent says it’s down to just two - me and the guy who’s going to get the part!”
Some have compared those who participate in church to actors. Only a few get the speaking parts. The rest sit in the audience and listen (or daydream).
Soren Kierkegaard, a 19th century philosopher complained that the common concept of his day was that, in the drama at church on Sunday: God is the prompter, the preacher and singers are the actors, and the congregation is the audience. I think that is still how many today view church. But it’s wrong!
Kierkegaard felt that should be changed so that the preacher and singers were the prompters, God is the audience, and the members of the congregation are the actors. That, I think, is a better understanding and closer to the Biblical concept in that it makes church members active participants. But, it’s still wrong!
In the Biblical description of church, there is no audience. Neither God nor the church are meant to be spectators who critique the performance of others (though quite often that’s what some do at church).
The drama metaphor is flawed. Christians do not gather to offer songs or sermons or offerings to God as if he would benefit from them. "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands,” Paul said. “And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything” (Acts 17:24-25). God is not the audience!
Neither are we. Or at least we shouldn’t be. Church should not be a spectator sport. “When you come together,” Paul taught believes in Corinth, “everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation” (1 Corinthians 14:26). No spectators; everyone participates. And the purpose of the activities is clear: “All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church” (14:26).
For many Christians, that’s a major shift in thinking. It changes everything! We don’t gather on Sundays to entertain God. Nor do we meet to entertain others or be entertained by them. Believers come together to mutually build each other up. Church isn’t a play; it’s more like a group therapy, or maybe a family meeting.
And, the good news is: It’s not down to just the two of us; everyone has an important role.