Willy Wonka and the Church Factory


Willy-wonka 500xcathedral

I’ll bet you never linked these two enterprises together before, huh? But they’re far more alike than most of us ever imagined.

In fact, in some cases, they’re practically the same!

Think about it. Willy Wonka and the golden ticket and all that is a relatively new idea—sort of an updated, “Wizard of Oz” thing. But rather then viewing it simply as a fun fantasy/comedy movie, try my version of the ever popular, ‘word search’ game you find in newspapers each week. Only in my version, you would view the movie and match the behavior of nearly all the spoiled brat kids with a lot of modern day church goers.

Oh come on! It’ll be fun! I’ll even get you started…

First, you need to get to know the characters. You can use this handy ‘online description’ for the kids:

The five winners, all children, who visit the factory are Augustus Gloop (Philip Wiegratz), a fat, spoiled kid who eats candy continuously; Veruca Salt (Julia Winter), the whiney, spoiled daughter of a wealthy British nut packer; Violet Beauregarde (Annasophia Robb), the arrogant, spoiled daughter of an American Barbie Doll; Mike Teavee (Jordan Fry), a surly, spoiled video-game player; and our young hero, the unassuming Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore). They and the one guest they are each allowed to bring with them are in for the adventure of a lifetime.

Think of the Willy Wonka character as your typical pastor.

Ok, I tried to make this easy. See any patterns here?

Hint: One word repeats four times.

Ok, ok, I’ll try not to be sarcastic for 5 seconds. But don’t miss my point. A lot of times ‘Christians’ today approach church more like an outlet mall. They go there with a shopping list of “needs” they have. If their list of demands, oops, desires, is met, that church is crowned the lucky winner and said shoppers agree to take up seats at said church and begin consuming (not unlike 17 year locusts) without giving until they come to a ministry, oops, I mean, ‘plant,’ that isn’t green enough. THEN, it’s off to another church, I mean, mall and the shopping begins all over again.

Average stay?

6 months to 2 years.


What are they looking for that they never seem to find?

Maybe this…


Not the candy bar, but what it might have in it.

The golden ticket!

WonkaboxIn the movie people were willing to try a lot of Wonka bars for the 1 in 1,000,000 chance of finding the 1 thing that could supposedly solve all their problems—meet all their needs.

With this approach to church, looking for a church home for some folks is a lot like going through box after box of wonka bars until the allusive golden ticket (perfect church) is found.

In the quest for the perfect church their are many different types of golden tickets. For some it is the style of music, others it’s the volume of that same music. Some like churches that preach straight through the Bible—verse by verse by verse never detouring FOR ANYTHING! Even if something like 9/11/01 happens, never mind the fact that in the aftermath of such a tragedy the world is looking for answers that only Jesus can give, you’re in Leviticus 11:3 today and, Dad Gummit, we will discuss why the Israelites were only to eat animals, ‘having divided (cloven) hooves and that chewed the cud prior to the time of Christ!’<— Ok, I digressed a bit with that one.

Others want the perfect youth group (the church can be teaching heresy, but Johnny and Suzi are happy!), or not to feel guilty, or a health, wealth and prosperity gospel that makes them feel like Jesus died to make us all into Christian versions of Donald Trump.

Then there are those who are looking for a church that is not too big (what’s too big?), not too small (what’s too small?), not too warm and fuzzy, certainly not too cold, not too flashy, not too plain, not pastoral lead, not lay lead, not too traditional, not too contemporary…

I really could go on and on and on. But we’re getting away form the movie, and in order to play, Willy Wonka and the Church Factory we need to stick to the script.

Approaching church the way I just described may be HUGELY popular, but the satisfaction rate will end up roughly the same as that experienced by each troubled kid in the movie. Tomorrow we’ll take a look at each church shopper, oops, I mean, character, in from the movie and find the parallels to real, pseudo church life.

Are we having fun yet?

Maybe tomorrow.