Church and the Strawdog Theatre Company

A couple of weeks ago, an evening meeting cancelled leaving my wife and I with a rare night off. It was 3 p.m so there wasn’t a lot of time, but I was determined to not let the freedom go to waste.

I jumped online and began to look for tickets…to anything. It was a Tuesday, so not a lot happening, but in Chicago you can always find something.  On this Tuesday, I discovered the Strawdog Theatre Company. Located on Broadway in Chicago, Strawdog does its thing in an old chocolate factory and by the appearance of the entrance, also houses a few apartments as well. The tickets were $15. What a price! So I made the call. 

I was surprised by how small the room was when the doors opened. There were about 40 chairs arranged in a u shaped manner. At the front there was a desk, a chair, and a lamp. To the right was a small sound, light, fogger, sound effects, and "what ever else is needed" booth.

The house filled up quickly and the performance began. I didn't know what to expect for $15 and such a small gathering of people, but it was awesome! 

These folks were serious about their work. They engaged the audience often and by the time it was over we all felt a little like family, at least I did.

On the way home, I thought about how much preparation, passion, and hard work had been displayed for such a small crowd. They did everything, lights, sound, weeks or months of practice, set up and tear down, for a maximum return to the theatre of about $600 that night. There would be additional income from refreshments sold, but not much. I'm not sure what the players make at Strawdog, but if it was divided hourly by their time investment, it wasn't much.

I didn’t get a chance to interview any of the players though I hope to eventually because we definitely plan on returning.  As we drove home, I wondered what their motivation was?

Maybe they were there because every little bit helps.

Maybe they were there because being there might lead to something great.

Maybe they were there because they were learning.

Maybe they were there because they simply loved what they were doing and believed it mattered in this world. 

As a guest and observer, I would vote for all of the above with a special emphases on the final option listed. Even if I'm wrong, the fact that I came away believing it, is a compliment to these actors and actresses commitment. These folks loved and believed in what they were doing.

So, let's talk about church. A vast majority of churches in America are small in numbers. As a pastor who's led churches of 5 to 1,000 I am aware of the difficulties associated with each layer in between. Sometimes, the size of the crowd can be discouraging. Don't let it be. 

Do what you do because every little bit helps. The Body of Christ has a mission that can only be fulfilled if we take advantage of every venue, every time. 

Do what you do because it might lead to something great. You never know what God will do on any given Sunday when the Gospel is preached. He alone knows his plans for your congregation large or small. 

Do what you do because you're learning. Aren't we all? Engage every opportunity to preach, sing, act, usher, greet, invite, teach, or run sound as a chance to grow in the gifts God has given you. 

Do what you do because you love the One for whom you do it, and because you believe the Gospel is making a difference in this world because it is! 

I say two things to pastors and church leaders every chance I get: 

1. "You are where you are by Divine appointment." Give it all you've got! 

2. "You're doing better than you think you are!" 

Keep going, church leaders, and let church roll on! 



This post is dedicated to Pastor Evan Offut, Mr. Don Hespell, and everyone at C1 who makes our FX Service a reality each week. These committed followers provide drama, music, lighting, sound, dancing, and yes even fog for a family service held every Sunday at 10:00 a.m. in our main sanctuary. We do it because of our belief that families experiencing something unique together is a powerful teaching environment, and one people who might not normally go to church will want to come to if invited. We're just getting started so the crowd is seldom big, but it's building. I recently counted 40 fathers in the room who were sharing a fun experience with their family in which could be used as a teaching point later. Ask any Family Pastor what they would give to be able to speak to that many Dads on a regular basis and you'll understand how significant this is. C1, you rock!