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The Church Is Like a Bad High School Band

Earl Palmer, an author and former pastor, once countered critics who rail against the church for its hypocritical, scandalous, and often irrelevant footprint in the culture. "When California's Milpitas High School orchestra attempts Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, the result is appalling," he said. "I wouldn't be surprised if the performance made old Ludwig roll over in his grave despite his deafness. You might ask: 'Why bother? Why inflict on those poor kids the terrible burden of trying to render what the immortal Beethoven had in mind? Not even the great Chicago Symphony Orchestra can attain that perfection.' My answer is this: The Milpitas High School orchestra will give some people in that audience and this will be their only encounter with Beethoven's great Ninth Symphony. Far from perfection, it is nevertheless the only way they will hear Beethoven's message."

Palmer is pointing out that the only way a starving, thirsty, deluded, and suffering world will ever hear the music of the gospel is through the body of Christ, arguably the worst "high school orchestra" ever to appear on a bandstand. If performance standards are really the most important measure, then the church is in trouble. But God is determined to trade the perfection of his solo performance for the possibility of playing a little improvisational jazz with us, the screechy saxophone players in the kingdom of God's ragtag big band.

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