One of the teaching tools we use here at Gaylord E-Free church is that of creativity. In the short time I have been the Lead Pastor here in northern Michigan I have tried to use creative elements to help the church better grasp the principles we are looking at from Scripture. I have hit golf balls out into the crowd. I have fished for live fish in the baptistery. I have passed doughnuts out in the balcony. And I have given away cold, hard cash. But sometimes creativity can "backfire" in the church.
We were preaching through the book of James at one of my former churches and were studying chapter 3 dealing with the topic of our tongue and our speech. In verse 3, James likens the tongue to a bit that goes in the mouth of a horse. In verse 4, he likens the tongue to a rudder on a ship. In both cases, these items (the bit and the rudder) are relatively small in comparison to the object it goes with (the horse and the ship), yet it is what determines the direction of the animal and the vessel. So is the case with our tongues.
To illustrate this point that Sunday we decided that if a picture is worth a thousand words, than the real thing must be worth a million words. So as people arrived at church they walked up to the main entrance where a 16-foot Hobie Cat Catamaran sailboat, which has 2 rudders, was on display. Inside the auditorium was a large rudder, big enough to steer a 5-ton ship. And then came the climax. When I got to the verse which talked about the horse’s bit, we brought in a real live horse right down to the front of the auditorium.
The horse’s name was Streamer. Streamer seemed a little bit nervous. Come to find out, this animal's nervousness had nothing to do with being in front of a crowd of people. This horse had other issues. As I explained the teaching from James, this horse turned its rump right to one of the center sections where people were sitting close enough that they could have reached out and touched the animal. He then lifted his tail. You know what’s coming next, right? The folks down front did. One of the men literally bolted from his seat, boldly leaving his family to fend for themselves. Then, before you could say, “Mr. Ed” (For those of you who don’t know it, Mr. Ed was the name of an old TV Show about a talking horse), Streamer unloaded. We had put plastic all over the front where the horse would be, just in case. Streamer was obviously not paper trained. He missed the plastic completely.
I can guarantee you this. Every person who attended that Sunday remembers that sermon!