We took the children to see a local production of Funny Bones yesterday at the local Oldham Library. The whole thing was a silent production. Not one of the characters said anything for the full hour. There were only one or two written words in it too. Yet everything was clear, we all knew what was going on and the story was totally clear. I thought the whole thing was done really well and the kids enjoyed it.
The cast had a wide array of props and various things. But most of them were very ordinary things. They managed to show us a whole zoo full of animals using things like latex gloves, swimming noodles and a table. It was all very ordinary and most the props were not expensive or clever things, there were no words, but everything was clear and we all understood everything happening. Even the young children it was aimed at got what was happening.
I sometimes wonder whether we, in the church, can be too quick and keen to make everything for everyone absolutely clear. There is, of course, nothing wrong with clarity. We should be aiming to be clear. But sometimes, I wonder if in our desperation to be clear, we end up over-explaining everything and giving people too little credit for what they would fully understand with much less explanation.
Similarly, we can expect that people will show no interest in what we’re doing, that they won’t buy in, unless everything is high grade and top quality. But just as the production managed to do an awful lot with very little, so the church can make things very clear and do a remarkable amount with very little. Just as the production managed to make some amazing things using a swimming noodle and balloon or something, sometimes, all you need is a Bible and a person to speak. People’s imaginations and ability to conceive things often far exceeds what we expect of them.
All of which is to say, for some of us, perhaps we could do with a less is more approach, rather than seeming to believe if less is more, more is more must be so much better! We can trust people to understand more than we often give them credit for. We can allow people to join dots without necessarily having to fill in every possible gap.
At the same time, others of us can be encouraged. If we have low production values and seemingly few decent props – maybe we don’t even have a building or very much to our name as we set up church on a Sunday – but these are not the things that draw people in. These are not the things that people ultimately need. Sometimes people can see what you’re trying to do, even if you are giving them something of a broad outline, almost a suggestion of a thing because they are capable of doing so. Ultimately, if we are preaching the Word and showing people Jesus, the production values don’t need to be high for people to see what we’re doing and, not only that, really get it, grow and love it as a result.