Ecclesiastical thoughts on Total Recall (Part 2)


Following on from PART 1, this post is the second in a short series exploring my ecclesiastical thoughts after watching the 2012 version of Total Recall.

The advertising for the film has the tagline “is it real, is it recall” which alludes to the storyline of the main character, Dennis Quaid who’s memory was erased but gets a bit of a kickstart after visiting ‘Rekall’, a company who use chemicals and technology to give you your wildest dreams.

During the film, Quaid asks a work colleague whether he’s happy with how his life has turned out – going to a boring job every day to do the same manual tasks on a production line. His friend (who is not actually his friend at all) tries to make it sound like everything is just dandy but Quaid feels like he’s missing something, like everything has become a bit stagnant.

You’ll have guessed where I’m going with this…

If we do the same thing day in, day out, it becomes stagnant and dull – what about church?  If we have the same words or process or layout week in, week out, doesn’t it become stagnant? If we do the same things every week in the service, how long is it before we switch off?

Is it real or is recall?

When people couldn’t read, it may have been helpful to learn the liturgy, sing the same songs and have the same preacher for continuity but is it really the best way to do church in today’s culture? I know people who love to follow the same pattern of worship each week so I’m not trying to bulldoze the whole idea but I hear more and more people saying it’s not quite hitting the spot.

As you know, I’m a big advocate for rocking the boat a bit, particularly by getting a little creative with what we’re used to. When organising services over the last 6 years, it is the elements of the services done differently that people seem to remember. It’s the confession done in silence as people drop effervescent tablets into a big jar of water, it’s the rhyming intercessions spoken over a dance beat, it’s the cheese and onion locusts I handed round while acting out John as he wrote what to say about Jesus. These are the things that make it real not just recall – the elements that give a bit of a kick in the pants to the week in, week out regularity.

When it comes to outreach, I think we need to think very carefully about how we present the greatest message on earth. Are we just recalling the same old story to people or are we making it real? Are we still standing on a soap box, drawing ‘clever’ images with crosses between cliffs and doing drama on the streets? Sorry, but we’re past that – People want authentic encounters with neighbours, colleagues, friends, even strangers who care about them and through relationship, share Jesus.

Let’s make it real – real for ourselves, real for everyone in our churches and real for those who don’t yet know the greatest story of heaven and earth.


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