After my family went to see Avengers Endgame. I asked everyone who is their favorite superhero and we went through a list of what they believe are the greats – Spiderman, Captain Marvel, Black Panther and my favorite – the Hulk. We love these heroes because because we want to emulate them and feel like we have a little super power in us.
As a pastor I have noticed that many churches have the same mission as superheros. They want to make the world a better place. However, many churches do not know how to have the same success in helping people as the Avengers. There are a few things we can learn from the Avengers to bring back super powers in all our churches.
1. Work Together
I was drawn in the Marvel Universe with Iron Man. I loved the genius of Tony Stark and I loved the technology he created even more. But I fell in love with the idea of the Avengers with the first movie. I saw how these six superheroes were able to do so much more then one of them could alone.
As a church, we try and do things alone. I find myself saying from time to time “it’s easier if I just do it myself.” While I can get it done by myself, it would be so much better if I was to do most any task with a team. As a church it is important for us to not only work together as a congregation, but with other churches as well.
2. Use Your Gifts
No two Marvel Super heroes are the same. They all have different powers and abilities. Captain America is a super-soldier. Thor has a magic hammer. Black Widow’s fighting ability is simply amazing. Working together means playing to different strengths.
Some of the Marvel heroes are stronger than others. Some are better leaders. Some are funnier. But they’re all at their best when they know their role and stick to it. They understand what they’re good at and leverage those abilities.
As church leaders, we all have our own unique gifts, too. They may not allow us to fly or lift cars. But it is important to know your strengths and the strengths of your team. Then leverage them to get work done.
3. Think Outside the box
Knowing your gifts is critically important. But it doesn’t mean that you have to do only one thing all the time. For example, Iron Man’s strength lies in his intellect and his ability to create amazing tech. However, because he was able to build amazing tech he created the Iron Man suit which gave him the ability to fly and super strength.
We as a church may have seen and experienced success in the past. But in order for the church to move forward in new and exciting ways we need to think outside the box. We need to be creative and use our talents to do ministry differently.
4. Be Funny
Tony Stark and Peter Quill are also two of the best examples of Marvel’s great sense of humor. Even Thor lightened up and gave the audience some good laughs.
The church is seen as being overly serious. Many churches don’t know how to lighten up and laugh. When a pastor makes a joke in a sermon it is okay to laugh. And Pastors it is okay to make a joke during a sermon!
5. Tell Compelling Stories
While the superheroes in the Avengers typically have amazing powers or armor with stunning abilities, the truth of these movies is that people are drawn to compelling stories. It’s not only the superpowers that draw people into the movie theaters – it’s the humanity of those who bear those powers. It’s Peter Parker (Spiderman) overcoming the grief of losing Uncle Ben and wrestling with the challenges of high school. It’s Steve Rogers (Captain America) having courage to do the right thing and stand up to bullies. It’s Thor wrestling with his identity as the son of a king and coming to terms with the power that resides within himself.
We have our own stories to share. We have powerful, life changing stories. Our stories can make a difference in the lives of other people. We also have the story of Jesus Christ, the greatest story ever told. How has Jesus made a difference in your life? How can your story make a difference in the life of someone you know?
Share your story and encourage others to share their story.
6. Bring old stories into a modern culture
Marvel and its characters have been around for a long time.. Iron Man originated in 1963. Captain America in 1941. Spiderman originated in 1962. In the Avengers, Marvel put on display their ability to take old stories and make them interesting, fun, relevant, and relatable to people living in 2018.
Some criticze the church for adapting “too much” to the culture. I do not belie that’s what the church is doing. Instead I believe that the church is finding ways to bring the Biblical story into terms that people today can relate to.
The church has timeless stories that can have a transformational impact on the lives of people who really get to know these stories. It is up to us to tell these old stories from the Scripture and make it interesting, fun, relevant, and relatable to people living today.
When we think about and plan out our next move in our churches, keeping these six things in mind will have a radical transformation in how we approach ministry, the people we are going to be able to reach and the difference we are going to be able to make in our communities of faith and the larger community.
Thank you Marvel for giving us these superheroes to inspire us in our personal lives but also inspire us in our life of faith.