Improv Everywhere, the social media-powered flash mob/acting troupe, has been up to their old, awesome tricks.
Check out their latest feat:
That’s right! They actually staged a “bullet time” fight straight out of The Matrix trilogy. So cool…
But who cares?
Maybe no one, but what if we ask a different question. What if we ask, “What can I learn from this?”
Deviance Turned Delightful
Did you ever take a sociology class in college? Were you ever asked to perform a social deviance project? If not, basically, it’s a project in which you do something awkward, uncomfortable, or inappropriate in order to get a reaction out of others. You break a social convention—you deviate from the standard of behavior in a particular cultural setting. That’s what makes Improv Everywhere so funny. They shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing where they’re doing it. It’s improper. It’s rude. It’s delightful.
Sometimes, doing something deviant can be truly life-giving as you destroy the sterility that builds up in some areas of life. Few public spaces are more sterile and stifling than church buildings. I’m not advocating for disrespect or debauchery in the church, but I do think that we need to get over ourselves. The church building isn’t the “temple of God,” the people are. Here’s a simple, tame example: my church held a banquet in our sanctuary! We moved out all of our fabric chairs, set up round tables, and surrounded them with folding chairs and held a catered banquet in our sanctuary. Then, the next morning, we put it all back to normal. Why? Because we could. Because it made the banquet more special than it would have been if we’d held it in the gym. Was this really deviant? It sure was if you’d seen some of the looks our older parishioners had when they heard about the idea, but by the time they got there, they were sold on it. It was so lovely, so wonderful, so life-givingly out of the norm.
Social Media All the Fun
If I’m not mistaken, Improv Everywhere gets most of their “extras” via social media. Watch that video again. Look at how many people were involved. People want to get involved in something that’s fun, memorable, and meaningful. (What’s more meaningful than epic silliness?) The Church is, or at least ought to be, with opportunities for meaningful, memorable, fun. If not, then that’s problem one. If you do have cool stuff that people could invest their time in, then start sharing those opportunities. I’m not asking you to give an open call for teachers and speakers. We need to find low-threshold spots for involvement. What kind of expertise does a flash mob require? None. Find a way—or should I say “create a way”—for people to be involved in the fun of the Kingdom.
This might be a bit harder (and a bit relative), but since when did church actives have to be small? Eight or so years ago, when our lead pastor brought up this idea of holding a fireworks celebration for our town, I thought he was crazy. I was right, but so was he! We’ve been holding the fireworks celebration for years now, and we’ve consistently seen crowds upwards of 10,000 come out to the event, with possibly another couple thousand gathered in parking lots and fields all over town to watch the fireworks. This is absolutely the biggest, coolest event that happens in our town all year, and our church pulls it off every year. It’s so cool to see God’s people work together! And you know what? This is one of our low-threshold opportunities. We don’t care if you’ve been at a our church for one week or one decade, “if you’re breathing, you’re working” is our motto. Sound a bit intense? It sure is, and yet every year, we have more and more people helping, many overjoyed with the chance to be a part of something so epic.
Find a way (prayerfully) to be epically deviant in your context and community and then invite others to join in the fun. More and more, I’m becoming convinced that Jesus is, in some ways, the “God of the Party.” As believers, we’re heading to a huge party in Heaven, but while we’re here on Earth, we’re to do what we can to bring small glimpses of this party to this depressed and dying world.
Is your church doing anything epic like this?