Movies. I love them. Action, Drama, SciFi, Classics, Dramatic Thrillers, Animated, and maybe even an occasional RomCom. Okay, RomComs only if my lovely wants to go. Since I came to rural VA, I have not gone to the cinema as much as I did in Dallas. But this weekend, I do want to see Midway.
But it didn’t do too well by the Rotten Tomatoes rating. Do I go? Wait for stream options? Just ignore? I’ll probably go, I mean, this is the type of flick that screams ‘Big Screen’ … Go Big or Go home.
But I got to thinking. What would it be like if your church service was rated by Rotten Tomatoes. I know this truth, people already judge the services. Too loud. Poor music choices. Pastor (me) didn’t wear clothes I like, and where is his tie? People aren’t friendly. Why do we have to shake hands? Nobody shook my hand. Too warm, too cool.
And the classic … somebody sat in my seat.
Now, believe or not, most pastors do pay attention to criticism. And very often, it hurts. I mean, who wants to hear where people think you messed up? And since they say for every one compliment, there are about 10-20 criticisms, the odds are worship leaders hear a lot more negative than positive.
Here are a few things about Rotten Tomato scoring, and some things for worship leaders to think about.
RT is a score that is done by select few. By those who have a record of reviewing movies. They have to be approved to be taken into consideration for the official RT score. Presently, there are about 3000 ‘Approved TomatoMeter Critics.’ It is not made by the casual viewer or even non-viewers. Some places will consider criticism from people who haven’t even seen the movie. Church leaders will hear from all types of people, and the comments are often about preferences. But worship leaders … you are truly there for an audience of One, for the opinion of One, and for the purpose of only One. Yes you may learn from others’ opinions, and iron is to sharpen iron, but ultimately remember … an audience of One.
You are truly there for an audience of One, for the opinion of One, and for the purpose of only One!
RT often is critical over things the cast has no control over. A movie was made, but compared to other movies that had bigger budget, was marketed better, and timed better. Some movies hit the screens when society is going through something that makes the movie awkward or already outdated. A sequel doesn’t excel like the first. A fellow actor fell from grace, and that tainted the movie as a whole. In worship, how do you control being compared to churches like Life Church or Gateway or Brooklyn Tab? How do deal with a great song choice that comes from an artist that made poor life choices? In an internet driven world, how do pastors even compete with Groeschel, Jeremiah, or Jeffries?
God gives opportunities, talents, and open doors that differ from person to person, place to place. So worship leaders, stop the comparison game and be the best God made you.
RT may impact success, but not always. There are times the two are connected. An unknown indie movie may go big when word gets out. A potential blockbuster may bomb because critics are listened to. But in worship scenarios, maybe there was just one person God wanted to really reach. You may felt you blew it, people seem unimpressed, but that one person was touched by God through a specific song, a quip from the sermon, an impromptu testimony, a truth about God’s love. Numbers and compliments are not the measure of success. You can do big things for numbers and compliments, but that is not why we should be there.
So, leave the tomatoes at home this Sunday … and worship from the heart, doing your best, and for the audience of One.