I officially earned my keep at church by agreeing to run the slides for worship this morning. I camped out in the sweltering balcony with my friend James, who was running the sound board. Check out this sweet (blurry) set-up.
My job was fairly simple: switch the slide. At crucial points in the sermon, worship songs, communion, I clicked a few keys and made sure the correct image appeared on the screen. Other than that, I was free to exchange snarky comments with James and enjoy the service.
Now, I’ve never been much of a back-stager at church. I’m usually right there in the pews with everyone else. Being a pastor’s kid, I was occasionally roped into serving communion or teaching Vacation Bible School, but the technical side of church was never my job. This experience of being physically removed from the rest of the congregation was completely new to me. It also answered a question I’d had for a long time.
As a kid, I always kind of wondered what we, as a congregation, looked like to an outsider. We sang and recited prayers and crossed ourselves with no discernible audience. Yes, we were singing for and worshipping God, but still. What would a passerby, a random audience member, think of our performance?
Today, I was that audience. An outsider, separated from my fellow churchgoers by a laptop and a few flights of stairs. I did sing along and listen to the sermon enough to switch the slides on time and sneak down to take communion. But for the most part, I was free to watch.
I didn’t see anything particularly earth-shattering. But that’s the amazing part. It didn’t matter. It didn’t need to be earth-shattering or mind-blowing, because it just needed to be real. And it was.
We’re just a group of humble people in a simple room. All we have to offer is our togetherness and our voices, and with that we can produce the most beautiful, genuine music. We certainly wouldn’t land a record deal, and we number too few to really bring down the house, but the one who’s listening doesn’t care about that. God, our most enthusiastic, team spirit-y fan, is throwing roses on the stage and begging for an encore. We’re giving him the gift of our love, our praises, our humble voices, and that’s all he wants to hear.
It’s a beautiful thing to see, even from the less-than-holy vantage point of an overheated balcony, and I’ll be glad to see it again. But I’m looking forward to next week, when it’s not my turn to run the computer and I get to sit among my fellow worshippers again. Because now that I’ve seen how good the show looks from the audience, I want to lend my own humble voice to the choir. We put on a good show. I want to be a part of it.