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The next stop in the Cathedral of Learning was the Austrian room.

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As you might expect from Austria, everything in the room was gorgeous.  I’ve been to Salzburg, and let’s just say it’s one of my all time favorite cities.  It’s elegant, it’s confident, and yet you don’t feel judged either.

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Oh, and did I mention that Austrian culture is big on art too?  The artwork was all over this room – enhancing the beauty.

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Lesson for church:  Beauty is a good thing.  We don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  There is nothing wrong with using beautiful things in the service of worshiping God.  The idea is to do things excellently. That’s not the same as perfection.  Those are two different things.  Excellence in church isn’t about being perfect.  Excellence is about using the resources you have in the best way possible.  It’s about utilizing the talents of the people in the church in the best way possible.  It’s about even utilizing children in worship and in the larger life of the congregation as well in the best way possible.  Pursuing excellence in church isn’t about the best and the brightest only being highlighted.  It’s so much more than that.  It’s expressing the beauty that is in our midst.  And sometimes the most beautiful things in our churches are our children, as they squirm and make noise, our teens as they find their place in the world, our parents as they seek help with their families, our elderly as they seek healing, our visitors as they seek, our outcasts as they seek a place of welcome.