24 Mistakes of Misplaced Missional Energy
Dr. James Emery WhiteJames Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina; President of Serious Times, a ministry which explores the intersection of faith and culture (www.serioustimes.org); and ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture on the Charlotte campus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Dr. White holds the B.S., M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees, along with additional work at Vanderbilt University and Oxford University. He is the author of over a dozen books.
- 2012 Nov 26
If you were like me, you waited in line over the Thanksgiving holidays to see “Skyfall,” the 23rd installment in the James Bond series, which began 50 years ago in 1962 with “Dr. No.”
And again, if you were like me, you were glad you did.
“Skyfall” has been heralded as the best Bond film in years, and Daniel Craig the best Bond since Sean Connery. It was, without a doubt, a Bond-lover’s feast. From the revival of Q to Miss Moneypenny, throwback villains to Aston-Martins, it deserves its critical acclaim, box office success, and rumblings of Oscar nominations.
But there were 24 mistakes.
I know, because somebody pored over the film multiple times and counted them.
For example, when Bond drinks Macallan in M’s apartment and puts the bottle down, the label is facing away from the audience. A few scenes later the label is toward the audience.
During the scenes on the London Underground, Bond gets on at Temple station and gets off at Westminster, but Embankment, the station in between these two stops on the District line, is nowhere to be seen.
Bond is seen driving down Whitehall in London. Behind him a number 38 bus is seen. However, the 38 bus does not travel down or indeed particularly near Whitehall.
When Bond is fighting on top of the train at the beginning of the film, his footwear changes from black lace up shoes to black slip-on ankle boots.
How dare they!
Of course, the 24 mistakes in “Skyfall” are nothing compared to the 395 in “Apocalypse Now” or the 310 in “The Wizard of Oz.”
Here was the progression of events for me. I went to the movie, and enjoyed it immensely. I came home, and during a routine scan of news, ran across the article on the 24 mistakes. And then I sat back, and thought,
Who has the time to count such miniscule mistakes?
Who has the kind of “life,” or spirit, that would want to?
Who looks at the larger-than-life story told through skillful acting, writing and cinematography in such a film -- much less Academy Award winners such as “Apocalypse Now” or “The Wizard of Oz” -- and walks away with bottle labels, tube lines and bus schedules?
Who wants to major on the minors?
Actually, I know. Most leaders do. It’s the same kind of person who analyzes any number of other people, places or things for mistakes. And I know at least one of the reasons why they do it, too. (We’ll bracket off their personality for the moment).
They have misplaced missional energy.
When I speak of missional energy, I confess I have no verse to take you to, no great theological architect from history to cite. Only 30 years of working with people as a leader. But I will tell you that I believe it is very real, and must be considered. When I talk to other leaders, they believe it’s real, too. They may not use my language, but they know what I mean when I describe it.
Here’s the idea: It is as if there is a certain amount of missional energy within a person, and by extension, within a community of people.
This energy can be turned inward or outward.
If turned outward, toward authentic mission, the life of the community is relatively peaceful. There isn’t the time or energy to focus on minor disagreements or petty arguments, trivial mistakes or inconsequential missteps. If a church, no one cares what color the carpet is, the fine points of another’s eschatology, or splitting a Sunday School class into two to make room for others.
Instead, Kingdom victories are celebrated by all, grace is extended to all, and minor mistakes are overlooked in all.
There are obviously far larger issues at hand.
However, if that energy is not turned outward, the energy still exists. And when not spent on authentic mission, it turns inward upon itself, as if a dog gnawing a sore on its leg. Pseudo-missions come to the surface feigning an importance equal to authentic mission. Suddenly miniscule matters of order, trivial variants of biblical interpretation, trifling questions about lifestyle all come rushing to the forefront with a sense of gravitas that is wickedly out of proportion.
Of course, this isn’t limited to churches. You see it in schools, homeowners associations, sports leagues… anywhere people are gathered.
Yes, there are times to point out mistakes and errors, moral lapses and incongruities. This isn’t about turning a blind eye to incompetence.
But let’s make them major ones, shall we? Ones that really matter?
And in the meantime, focus on using our energies toward something more productive than finding 24 inconsequential mistakes in a 143-minute film.
Like making a film or two yourself.
James Emery White
“Fans notice 24 mistakes in new James Bond film Skyfall,” The Telegraph, November 23, 2012, read online.
The actual compilation of mistakes, upon which the article is based, was made by www.MovieMistakes.com.
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, N.C., and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His newly released book is The Church in an Age of Crisis: 25 New Realities Facing Christianity (Baker Press). To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, log on to www.churchandculture.org, where you can post your comments on this blog, view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.