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Under the Big Top

Under The Big Top-01

Maybe you’ve heard the old joke. “Marriage is a three ring circus,” it begins. “Engagement ring, wedding ring, and suffering.”

Well, if you know me at all you know I don’t feel that way about marriage. But I do love a good circus.

This morning I read something about a circus, and it got me wondering. What do you suppose is the most important part of a circus?

Maybe it’s the ringmaster, whose booming voice and ability to dramatize each and every act keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering if the trapeze artist will fall to her death, or if the lion tamer will become a lion’s lunch. Or maybe it’s the silliness of the troupe of clowns pouring out of a tiny car and stumbling through their antics to the delight of the crowd.

Could it be the elegance, balance and daring do of a ballerina-like lass atop a beautiful steed that knows all the steps to the dance? Or how about calliope music that sets the tone for the fun and mayhem?

Whether you think it might be the menagerie of wild animals tamed and trained to delight the audience with their tricks and feats of strength, or the very Big Top itself – up to 10,000 square feet of bright colors, bleachers and sawdust – I have a relatively tiny part of the industry that I’d like to proffer just might be the most important part.

Behold: the tent peg. Though up to some 30 inches in length, this relatively small item can be found by the score at any traveling circus. Though most patrons think of them only when they stub their toe or trip over them, can you imagine where the circus would be without them?

Every circus that has a Big Top needs tent pegs. It’s amazing how something so big would collapse and be a total failure if it wasn’t for something people don’t even notice. Something so seemingly small.

It’s that way with churches, too. No matter how gifted and outgoing the Ringmaster … uh … Pastor is, successful ministry takes everybody in the church family.

The successful church life is more than just a pastor/preacher. More than just a worship team, or any of the other Sunday morning, “main service” elements.

Successful church ministry includes the nursery worker who loves those babies ALMOST as much as their parents; the youth leader who cares about the teens … even when they don’t reciprocate; the custodian and landscaper who consider it their ministry to keep God’s house looking sharp; the greeter who doesn’t think their smile is any big deal, but it’s what keeps some guests coming back.

Successful churches need a lot of tent pegs. They may be behind the scene … but they’re what keeps the Big Top up.

Pastor Larry Ambrose
Pastor Larry Ambrose
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