This week, a mega-church in my hometown played an April Fools prank on the community. They announced the launching of their own craft beer brand as a way for them to connect with beer drinkers who don’t go to church. The video directed viewers to a website, which, if the investigated deep enough, one would find a video of the church’s pastor scolding the visitor for believing the silliness of a church launching a brewery while inviting them to attend the church.
The response was predictable. Of those commenting on the church’s Facebook page, some found it humorous, but the vast majority, including some of the church’s own members, found the video in bad taste and not particularly humorous. Their reasons varied, but it was clear the church had touched a nerve in ways I’m sure weren’t intended.
However, as the comments racked up, so did the attempts by whoever manages the church’s social media to justify the prank. Phrases like, “we’re creating a conversation” and “we offer Celebrate Recovery” were given as justification for the prank. (These responses have since been deleted)
What bothered me was not that a church made a video about beer. What bothered me was the apparent unwillingness to listen to the voices of those who found the video upsetting or hurtful.
No matter what you think about beer, April Fools pranks, or mega-churches, there is a lesson to be learned here. We all do stupid things. We’re human. It’s unavoidable. What is avoidable is the rush to defend ourselves without really listening to those who have been hurt by our actions.
On this Mission Monday, I would invite you to take stock of your response to when accused of wrongdoing. Do you react in self-defense? Do you attempt to convince the other person that he or she is wrong? Do you respond with all the flaws you see in your accuser, hoping to prove that the two of you are equally guilty?
If you are like me and can say yes at different times to all three questions, consider how these responses impact how others perceive you as a disciple of Jesus. During the Easter season, we remember that Christ faced all kinds of (false) accusations, and even went to a cross He did not deserve, and yet, did nothing to defend Himself. Knowing that God has forgiven us at the Cross frees us to seek forgiveness from others.
Sometimes, the most missional thing you can do is to say “I was wrong and I’m sorry.” It demonstrates a posture of humility, allows the other to be heard, and opens a pathway where the peace of Christ can enter the relationship and bring healing.
I have no idea whether the craft beer video was a stupid thing to do or not, even if it was for Jesus. The bigger question is how the church who made it will listen those this video seemed to hurt.
You and I face the same question.