Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2016
Texts: Revelation 2:1-7, Hosea 2:13, Revelation 2:8-17, Revelation 2:18-3:6, Isaiah 60:14, Revelation 3:14-22
It’s still recognized as one of the greatest business flubs in history. Dick Rowe, the A&R (Artists and Repertoire) man at Decca Records agreed to listen to audition tapes from a musical group, but he was unimpressed. He famously told their manager, Brian Epstein, that “guitar groups are on their way out.”
The Beatles drove through a snowstorm from Liverpool to London on New Year’s Eve, 1961, to record those rejected demos. Five months later, the soon-to-be Fab Four signed with George Martin at EMI records, leading to arguably the most successful artist-producer collaboration in history. With Martin’s direction, the Beatles rose from abject failure at the beginning of the year to become the biggest rock group in all of England by the end of 1962.1
George Martin saw something the Decca A&R man missed: The Beatles had charisma. As Martin showed the lads around the EMI recording facility he asked if there was anything they didn’t like about the configuration of the studio. Guitarist George Harrison dead-panned, “For starters, I don’t like your tie.”
Though they were unpolished, the raw talent was there, ready to be refined. Even Paul McCartney said, “Listening to the tapes I can understand why we failed the Decca audition. We weren’t that good.” Martin, who died on March 8 at the age of 90, recognized the potential for greatness in this group. He got them focused on a goal and with a bit of direction and inspiration, he steered four ragged mop tops to become the best rock musicians of their era.2
The seven churches in Asia Minor had all the raw materials necessary to be powerful witnesses in their territories for Christ and the gospel, but they were unrefined. In our lesson this week we see many positive traits in these churches, and we also see the rough edges that needed to be polished. Each church had uniquely powerful traits for ministry. All but one, however, had flaws that kept them from reaching their true potential in Christ. Even though the Philadelphia Church had no perceivable defects, they still needed to stay focused on Christ and His kingdom. The potential to fall away is always present with even the best of us.
Christ wisely took the time to address each church individually and work with each one according to their strengths and weaknesses. By focusing on the heavenly goal, He directed the seven churches toward the kingdom. As we learn from the experience of these seven churches, we too can be empowered by the Holy Spirit and polished and refined by the wisdom of Jesus. Only then can we best spread the gospel of the kingdom to the whole world.
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