TV Production has ruined me for church


The night before a day’s filming, the production office emails a call sheet for the next day. On this there are all the details, locations, timings and needs of every minute of that day. If the filming is exterior, the details of rain cover are included. Everyone required on the shoot, from security to actors to drivers to runners, to catering, everyone is there. It even gives sunrise and sunset times.

The call sheet is sacrosanct – it comes out whatever the conditions… if the team is perched in a wind-beaten caravan on the top of Snowdon, by some miracle of production there will be just enough signal and the emails will work and everyone will get all the information they need to do the job properly the next day.  If the team is housed in London’s West End while the production is filming in the middle of the Indian Ocean, communication is established and the call sheet comes out bang on time and it’s relevant and accurate. It’s damn near inviolable.

I would say that it comes out with military precision, because that’s the cliché, but I’ve been in the military and I know the gigantic daily cock-ups there are in that milieu (World War I for example) . TV Production is a hundred times more efficient and streamlined than any military manoeuvre.

Church is not.

TV Production has soured me for the well meaning, generous, loving, gentle organisation that is a church. Church is where we struggle to find the people we need for the work to be done, but we do it anyway (by the grace of God). Church is where the old are too frail to do a lot of the donkey work, the middle aged are busy working and raising families and the young are, well, too young. Church is where easily-irritated Luce becomes very- easily-irritated Luce. I did today. Mea Culpa. I did today.

What’s at the base of my irritation? It’s all them others!

No. It’s not. It’s not other people, it’s me. Self and pride and the absolute knowledge that if only they’d just bloody well leave me alone to do the job, it would be done so much better than without their half-baked ideas confusing things. My half-baked ideas rule, OK?  It’s me, self and pride and me. And me too. And a bit of me.

And then, right slap bang wallop after my irritation, what did we get? Rock me rigid! We had a sermon about true worship – about the act of true worship being possible whether you’re tying your shoe laces, visiting a friend or reading the Word. True worship is living with God,  fully submitted to His way, so that your life is His, so that every act and every moment of your day is lived in His will and His way. Hah! Not irritable, then? I mean, can I be irritated and impatient and champing at the inefficiency and lack of communication in the church and somehow remain in the will of God? Can I steam inwardly and feel my blood pressure rise at the lack of crisp and clear procedures and still be fully submitted to the God of perfect love? Can I smoulder with resentment and frustration with my neighbours and worship God at the same time? Could that work if I try really really, hard? Grit-my-teeth  hard?

Je ne sais pas, my little fruitcakes.  Je ne flipping sais pas.

Church isn’t the smooth, well oiled machine of a film crew. It isn’t a great clean channel of instant communication and its procedures aren’t crisp and simple and well established. There isn’t a clear chain of command for every task. There’s just God and us bumbling, flawed, well meaning and kind souls. I include myself in the words flawed and bumbling but not the others.

Why am I confessing this? I don’t know. I’m not ashamed of it, nor am I proud of it, I’m just owning it. It’s who I am. And God loves me anyway. He’s amazing. I’m really really proud of Him. He’s a great teacher. Today has been a hard lesson – I’m still ‘out of sorts’. I’m in my little house with my two dogs and I don’t want to face the world. But I will, because here’s the thing – in spite of me, AND because of me, God has given us everything we need to live in His will and His way. We have it all. All the power and all the glory and all the love, in Jesus Christ.

And finally,  here’s the thing for today, simply the lovely thing that is today. However tangled my soul is, however sharp-edged my temperament, this is the gift I have today.  However confused you are, however alone or anxious or depressed, however broken, however messy, this is how much God loves you. Look at what He’s given us:

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