Rice or Radios, Worship or Witness
By Doug Bing, Washington Conference president
In the aftermath of World War II there was a young company in Tokyo that was just getting started and barely making ends meet.
The first innovation for this technology company was an electric rice cooker. It did not catch on at the time, so the innovative minds at the company started taking in shortwave radio repairs.
Along the way, the lead technologist became intrigued with a new thing called transistors. He attempted to get a license in post-war Japan to try and develop the technology. Though he was rejected at first, he kept trying and finally received permission by 1953.
What was his dream? To develop a radio that you could carry around in your pocket.
At that time, it had never been done. Companies that made radios used giant tubes and housed radios within cabinets for your home. But the team of scientists worked to do what others thought couldn’t be done and developed the first portable personal radio. That company later became known as Sony.
Think about that for a moment. A company that we all know as a worldwide technology company with many different electronic products manufactured each year started out inventing an electric rice cooker.
What if that company had persisted in developing a rice cooker instead of pivoting to meet a different need? We may never have heard about Sony.
The past few months have been months of learning to pivot and do things differently.
Some did amazingly well. Others clung to doing things the way they have always been done.
I have wondered at times about the choices that we make as Christians. There is an interesting choice at times between worship or witness. Both are very important in the Christian life.
Yet much of the time in our church life is spent focused on worship services each week. Not nearly as much time is spent learning how and becoming better witnesses in our community.
Many times worship services are not so much of a witnessing service. The programming and planning is often with established Christians in mind and not for those who may be wondering about Christianity. We use terms and phrases that only Christians understand in our worship.
I wonder at times if we chose worship to the detriment of witness.
Yet witness is what we are called to do. Jesus commissioned us to go into all the world. You see over and over again in the Bible the command and the commission to witness. Two references particularly stand out: Matthew 28 and Acts 1.
Acts 11:26 is the first place that mentions the name Christian in the Bible and it is connected not with worship but with witness and the teaching of a great many people.
The good news: we don’t have to choose between rice and radios. We can provide both physical and spiritual encouragement to our neighbors. Witness can and should be an integral part of our worship experience.
Worship is an important and essential part of living life as Christians and let us also be known for our witness of the good news of Jesus in all aspects of our lives. And yes, may our worship services also be wonderful places of witness and calling people to make decisions for Jesus.