If you missed part 1 or want a refresher to what I said earlier this morning about the wow factor check it all out here.
The wow factor is present in the church. It maybe an element in the service, a building structure, a guest speaker, a program, or a special event, the church lives for the wow moments.
The wow factor is not present in the story.
The movie avatar delivers the wow factor but it also delivers a story.
At the beginning of the movie Avatar, there is an advertisement for who did all of the 3d work. You see a dog sitting there and a ball that roles out in front of the dog. The dog puts on his 3d glasses and the ball comes to life. He chases the ball around and then the company name comes up and the we move on to the movie. I sat there and kind of laughed to myself and thought how funny it would be if that was the whole movie. Just a dog chasing around a ball and some crazy special effects, with some awesome 3d elements. After about 5 minutes I would get up and leave. The problem with making a movie that only consist of wow moments is it has no emotional tie or bond to you. It is just a bunch of crazy effects that really get old after a while. Church services can turn into that dog running around chasing the ball. A bunch of creative elements that try and deliver the punch but have no message. After 5 minutes I usually get up and leave.
Producing wow moments in church service takes away from the story. Its easy to create wow moments, it is so easy it feels like manipulation. You know, taking a moment and playing with peoples emotions to get a bigger response, a “closer” feeling to Christ. We can spend a lot of time on the creative elements, but how much time do we spend on developing the effects of the message?
The amazing thing about Avatar is the story holds everything together. All the amazing computer animated elements, or the 3d effects, or how realistic the planet Pandora looks can all be the centered feature of the film, but James Cameron focuses on the story to make it a great film.
Sometimes I wonder if the church is focusing on the creative elements over the story. I think James Cameron goes for creative elements, but only in a complimentary way to the story. James Cameron realized that if he let the technology get ahead of the story the only thing people would leave the movie talking about was the green screen effects or the computer animated characters. I think he wants you to talk about all the wowness, but he also wants you to remember the story. The same can be said about Christmas Eve service. We can walk away talking about the star curtain or how they had that guitar solo that blew my mind, but ultimately it is about the story. The wow factor can get in the way of the story.
Here is the problem with the wow factor: You only leave talking about that moment, not the entire story.
Would we rather have people leave from hearing the greatest story ever told talking about how they were able to suspend an angel from the ceiling or about how Jesus came to earth in the form of a baby and was there to save all humanity? You can kind of let your mind wonder to the negative effects that can be felt in the church of the wow factor. I think the most concerning is the effect of consuming and not doing. Instead of being apart of the story, we are watching the story. Instead of taking the story with us, we take pieces of the story. Instead of making the story about Him, you make it about ourselves. The wow factor can produce amazing moments, but it does not leave you in amazement.
What did I learn from James Cameron and Avatar? The story is the most important thing.