The Gong Show

Some time ago I purchased the film "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" on DVD. George Clooney's directorial debut was the alleged true story of Chuck Barris, creator of The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game and The Gong Show, and about his exploits not just as a television show creator and producer, but also as an agent for a branch of the U.S. government as a contract killer. It's a very interesting film, though it's loaded with tons of visceral sexual dialogue that could have been toned down, but such is the way of people in Hollywood doing whatever they feel like. Sam Rockwell is outstanding in the lead role, by the way.

I was reminded of this film and the story it told of its creator after seeing a clip on YouTube earlier this week of one of my favorite, but now defunct bands, performing on The Gong Show:

That's right, folks. Oingo Boingo not only performed, but won on the episode of The Gong Show in which they appeared. Which brings me to the point of this post.

Tomorrow morning I am helping to adjudicate the first round of bonafide auditions we are having at our church for our music department. This is the first time we've ever brought in multiple people for a mass audition like this, and we're having some interesting comments and remarks from people who have called in asking for information:

"I don't know the lyrics to any of these songs (in response to one of 8 songs they need to learn for the audition)."

"I just thought this was going to be something fun to do every once in a while and didn't realize it was going to be big 'to do'."

"I've played in bands for, like, 20 years, opened for touring acts and stuff, but I'm not sure I can pull off the level of professionalism you guys are looking for."

"What if I bomb?"

"I don't know if I can make the audition times. Can I come by later in the day?"

"I didn't think I needed to sign up or anything."

Okay, that last one I didn't get, but I'm looking ahead to the future, anticipating what someone's going to say when they come in.

I think I might be surprised at the number of people that will come in tomorrow and next Saturday that don't measure up to the standards of excellence that we're looking for, or that might even be aware that we have standards that we're asking people to meet. There are still so many people operate with the mentality of "volunteer" that it's mind-boggling. Our church's executive team even moved away from the term "Volunteer" because of what that word implies -- someone giving of their time, expecting no pay, but still acting like their presence isn't required, or that they have no accountability to anyone. We figured that by changing the name to "service team member", it would put a more active connotation to the position. And yes, we're at the point of being large enough to require a very large number of service team members, but when it comes to our musicians and actors, we simply can't afford to pay anyone. And since artists are usually the flakiest of the bunch, this is where the most problems spring up.

But I'm also encouraged by some of the phone calls I have received, those from people who get the idea of serving in their local church being the job of a servant, and not that of a volunteer. These are the people that I would have no problem getting down and dirty in the trenches with, because I know that their vision for ministry matches our pastor's vision. Our mission is to communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ to people and to train up disciples by connecting with people where they are, finding touchpoints that relate to them in such a way that they are compelled to come back next week because they don't want to miss out on something God might have in store for them. And of the people that have signed up to audition so far, I can immediately think of 4 or 5 that are the type of people we're looking for because they have the attitude necessary to serve effectively, no matter what they do. Now, it'll be a bonus if they can sing thunder, act up a storm, or play their instrument across the ocean, but their attitude will be enough to make us remember them even if their talent doesn't measure up to where we think it needs to be.

We won't be banging the gong on anyone, or getting it on for that matter, but we're going to really take note of what they bring to the table other than just the level of talent they possess. If only The Gong Show had that presence of mind when bringing the poor hopeful hacks onto their stage. Honestly, I think if Americal Idol uses the gong approach during their auditions, their ratings will go even higher. But then again, those people aren't in it for the service.

Are you?

There Is No Box.