Saturday, December 18, 2010


Larry King, the suspender-wearing minimalist talk show host, just retired after twenty-five years on television. Larry has interviewed some very notable guests; politicians, celebrities, athletes. But on his last show, the table was turned and King himself was interviewed. The questions were predictable. "What was your favorite interview?" (no straight answer to that one), and "What question did you ask more than any other?" To which King immediately replied, "Why?" When the interviewing then asked, ahem, "Why?" King went on to explain: "Why is the best question for two reasons. First, because the question does not allow for a one-word answer. And second, because it requires the person to actually think."

My twenty-five years of pastoral experience have told me that in the church we don't ask why nearly enough. We love to ask "How?" We gravitate toward "When?" We even like "Where?" But church leaders tend to stay away from "Why?" Why opens up a can of worms sometimes. Why do we worship on Sunday mornings? Why do we meet every week? Why do we teach for thirty minutes? Why do we sing first, then teach? Why do kids ministries happen during the service? Why do we advertise in the newspaper? Why do we use the word "program" instead of "bulletin"? My point is not to supply answers to these questions, but to say they all begin with the right word.

In the coming year maybe we can all resolve to ask deeper, better questions. The next time you get together with your team, if your team doesn't ask you why, ask them. After all, if Larry's gone, somebody needs to wear the suspenders around here!

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