Lessons from Prom


My hometown… Salem, Illinois has his crazy tradition… it’s called Prom.  I know… I know… every town has prom.  But you don’t understand… this is a Prom like you have never seen before.  This is big hoop dresses… big bows and curtsies… big luxurious stretch limos or party buses depending on your style… red carpet arrivals with announcements of who just arrived.  The only thing I think is missing is the question… “Who are you wearing?”.

The whole town comes out for prom.  That’s right… it’s entertainment… a show of beauty and elegance… well… the closest that a town of 8,000 people can get.  It really is fun.  It’s a wonderful time for the whole family… if you have a son or daughter attending or if you are just the mom of a 5 year old that wants to go and see all the “Princesses”.  The only difference in the two is the cost.  If your son is attending prom… plan on him spending $100-$150 on the tux plus the cost of the corsages and limo. Depending on the extravagance of your arrival… as a male you end up spending $200 – $300 I would say.  Some of the students that I know that went to prom last night spent $900-$1000 on a party bus.  Now, that was split between 10 different couples so it sounds worse than it was.  My senior year my dad worked with a funeral home… so for prom my senior year… we took… a funeral home limo.  My wife busts my chops about it all the time.  That’s okay… she can.

Now for the ladies to go to prom we’re talking a lot of cash just for the dress.  You can spend anywhere from $200-$1,000 on the dress alone.  One of the prom traditions that I really love seeing around here is when you walk into the Hometown Grocery store and see the community board with pictures of dresses for sale.  These dresses are so expensive and so unique that you can pretty much only sell them around here…but with the cost being so high… you’re pretty silly if you don’t at least shop for a used dress.  If you have the luxury of purchasing a new dress… you’re pretty silly if you don’t at least try to sell it the following year.  But then again… that’s just my fatherly opinion. Another fatherly opinion I have about dresses for prom… don’t spend more on your prom dress than your wedding dress. That’s free advice… trust me… you’re husband will appreciate it.
I ran into a friend from high school last night that is now a teacher at the high school.  She we telling my how much over the top prom has gotten since we were in high school 12 years ago.  She told me of a girl last year that had French lace on her dress that was shipped over from France… I think that sums it up well.

The Ballroom experience is cool even if it takes place in the high school gymnasium.  As you can see in the picture above… they do a great job decorating.  That same picture illustrates the prom court doing the annual bow and dance.  I am sure there is a technical term for it… but I wasn’t popular enough to even care when I was in high school. This is the part of the evening that everyone comes out to see. (Just look at the spectators in the picture).  The ballroom time is the elegant time of the evening with a live band… the Post Prom is where all the fun happens… just ask the kids.  It’s like the After Parties of all the awards shows in Hollywood… only free pizza… give aways… and a DJ that plays music to groove to.
Here’s another picture of the ballroom dancing:
 Prom is a blast.  It’s supposed to be.  But as I was standing there talking to my friend at the store last night I could help but to think of how much of a show prom is.  Then I thought about the church today.  I thought you know… today’s American church looks a lot like Prom in Salem, Illinois.  We spend all this time and money to look good… to be extravagant.  Different churches do it for different reasons too… some do it for the popularity… some do it for the tradition… some do it because other churches are doing… and others are doing it because… well… they think that it pleases their Father.

This reminds me of a song that is sung by Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman called “Instead of a Show”.  Here is the first two stanzas of this song:
I hate all your show and pretense
The hypocrisy of your praise
The hypocrisy of your festivals
I hate all your show
Away with your noisy worship
Away with your noisy hymns
I stomp on my ears when you’re singing ’em
I hate all your show

Instead let there be a flood of justice
An endless procession of righteous living, living
Instead let there be a flood of justice
Instead of a show

This song is written from God’s perspective of the church as Jon Foreman sees it. It gives us something to think about as we seek to worship God in a real authentic way.  If you worship at a non-traditional church or a traditional church… that doesn’t matter… we all fall in the trap of the show… kinda like prom time in Salem, Illinois.

What are some things the church in America can do to worship more authentically?

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Lessons from Prom

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