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What the Church Can Learn From a Circus

by Bob D’Ambrosio


Cirque du Soleil has rebranded the circus. And it’s amazing audiences all over the world.

As I recently watched the presentation of Corteo during its world tour, I couldn’t help but think of the message from 1 Peter 4:10: “God has given each of you a gift…use them well…”

Cirque du Soleil, or Cirque, creates shows with people who use their gifts well. In fact, the tagline on their website’s career page tells potential performers to join their team to “Let your talent shine!”

Their unique cast and crew is a good model of working together for a common purpose. In the church, we call working together for a common purpose the “body of Christ.” The audience is not only amazed, but also inspired. I’m wondering if the church is demonstrating to its weekly audience that God calls each of us to use our gifts well—or do people walk away feeling that ministry is only for a select few?

Consider the following thoughts.

People Over Program

Cirque has mastered the strategy of finding people with special gifts so they can use their gifts. They create the program around the people; the people God uniquely created with special gifts and abilities. Often in the church we try to fill a square hole with a round peg because we’re more concerned with the program. Perhaps we’d have healthier ministry teams if we first discovered the gifts of our people and then matched them to places that will make them shine.

We’re All in This Together

You won’t find any superstars at a Cirque du Soleil performance. There’s no top billing, celebrity personalities, famous, well-known headliners, or even programs handed out with cast names. The performers work together for a common purpose: one unit, one mission. They don’t use terms such as lead, senior, or staff. They all work together to dazzle their audience with teamwork, timing, and synchronization.

Every Gift Is Special

Cirque performers are known for their unique talents: juggling, acrobatics, hula-hooping, and even whistling. Each of these skills is performed with outstanding ability and excellence because the performers are in their element, doing what they do best. The juggler is not told to sing, and the singer is not told to balance a ladder on his chin. They know that each person brings a special skill or talent to the team, and they celebrate and showcase that talent.

Each Task Is Important

In the Corteo show, the ringmaster whistles like you’ve never heard whistling before: It’s as if a bird were being held up to a microphone and singing a melody with a four-octave range. This show segment was equally as important as the other acts, which featured other uniquely talented people. I didn’t sense a hierarchy that ranked one skill higher than another. Does the person serving in your church nursery feel his or her contribution is just as important as the worship band or person presenting the message? When we celebrate each gift as an important part to the body, we affirm that God has given each person a gift.

Cirque du Soleil is not your typical circus, as individuals are working together while also shining as they use their unique talents and gifts. In the same way, as the church begins to raise up the unique talents and gifts of its people, we may demonstrate a clearer picture of the body of Christ.

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What the Church Can Learn From a Circus

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