When it comes to memorable, effective, embraceable and (because you want to achieve the former three with ease) HUMOROUS imagery for your message, you can’t do much better than animated inanimate objects.
Take for example the eternally successful Fruit of the Loom ad campaign.
Or the still super-educating “I’m Just a Bill” from Schoolhouse Rock. (There’s someone in the Oval Office, who likes tv alot, who should be watching this one….)
If I may be so bold, my appearance as the Living Bible at PRIDE parades always creates quite a stir, and (so far) in a great way….
I can’t help but think that’s at least one of the reasons Paul, at 1 Corinthians 12:12-30a, decided to describe the “body of Christ” as, literally, a body. Consisting of several body parts. In interdependent conversation with one another. As animated inanimate body parts are want to do.
And beyond the content of the conversation — each part expressing inherent need for all others because we all know physiologically no one part of the body does it all nor anywhere near it all and we are created to function as a composite of many unique and absolutely necessary members — the fact that Paul has eyes, ears, noses, (and, by implication uvulas and armpit hair) presented as sentient beings conversing with one another…that’s funny! And memorable! And effective! And embraceable!
Who doesn’t want to do the “Body of Christ” play dressed as a giant hand, or a giant ear, or a giant nose? (After all, there is, for example, little from the world of the stage that can compare to this chorus line of giant tap-dancing noses. Enjoy! More-than-enjoy!!)
I recently preached a sermon on 1 Corinthians 12:12-30a. The particular purpose for this sermon was to introduce my congregation to the DiSC® behavior assessment tool. As you may know, this tool divides human personalities and work styles into 4 distinct types, each of which brings unique, powerful skills and proclivities to the table and is intended to work interdependently with the other three:
Dominant: Forceful go-getters who see a problem and solve it. “D”’s don’t necessarily need others to come along and may proceed before getting all the facts.
Influence: Charismatic cheerleaders who nimbly bring everyone together to move ahead. “I’s'“ can run out of enthusiasm, though, and move onto their next adventure leaving followers behind to fend for themselves.
Steady: Community-minded folks who make sure everyone is cared for and included in whatever is and whatever is next. “S’s” move ahead at a slower pace than the former two types.
Conscientious: The Detail Patrol, they make sure all (or enough) i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed, that there is the organization and resources in place for the journey forward, and everything is launched for success. “C’s”, too, tend to move slowly and cautiously and, like “D’s”, can prefer to work solo.
I am currently engaged in a most-impactful leadership development and congregational transformation process called “Creating A Culture of Renewal”. It uses the DiSC® to help pastors, staff and flocks better work, dream, love and emerge God’s Realm together for such a time as this. I wanted to introduce the DiSC® to my people in a way they wouldn’t, nor would they want to, forget!
So, taking Paul’s idea of describing vital Christian community as interdependent anatomy, I decided I would use interdependent body parts to symbolize the DiSC® of Christ. I could only pick 4, and of course there are a gajillion possibilities to pick from. Where or where to start?
Since I was running a bit last-minute with my sermon writing (ya know, being a creative type and all…an “I” through and through!), and, having a home that in the opinion of many could double as a museum of wacky (another byproduct of “I-ness”), I decided to use whatever giant-sized body parts I could find in my house to make my salient points.
So here’s what I then shared with my flock, pulling one and then the next from my “Lookin’ Good for Jesus King-Sized Tote”:
Dominant: Because they’re the people who are all about getting the move on, they’re the “feet” of the organization. I am not only fortunate to have these giant furry Big Foot bedroom slippers, but they’re currently easily retrievable as they sit under my Christmas tree. (My dad used to wear them every Christmas….)
Influence: Because they have a knack for seeing things in a creative, fun new way, here’s what I shared - another gem from my personal collection. If you move it back and forth it blinks, too! I don’t know where I got this giant eye, but it’s a great addition for the guest bathroom.
Steady: Because they’re all about keeping us working together. So of course, you symbolize them with a giant bone. And not only can I use it for any and all Wilma Flintstone appearances, but I’m finding it most helpful when stirring thick soup.
Conscientious: Because of their hyper-vigilance and ability to take, and pass, any and all “smell tests” for the congregation, they can only be represented by a giant nose. And guess what I have in my shower that serves as my liquid soap dispenser?!?
To top it all off, literally and figuratively, I reminded my flock that Paul’s best news is that we, Christ’s body parts, are wholly impotent unless animated, controlled and coordinated by the brain of the operation…Jesus himself. And, to symbolize that, I pulled out my last applicable object from my home, this one from my refrigerator…
As you can imagine (and/or will be happy to know), my sermon was met with much approval and laughter. Which ignited interest throughout the congregation to take their own DiSC personality inventory to discover which behavior type (and interdependent body part of Christ), they might be. Mission accomplished!
An engaging theatrical with conversing D-foot, i-eye, S-bone an C-nose (and Christ-cauliflower starring as Greek Chorus - natch), is most certainly forthcoming!