This morning, Pastor Jim Williams (A.K.A. "Jim the Baptist" for doing so many baptisms around Grace) kicked off a two-week series called "Got Stress." I got to hear him during the early, early worship (a weekly final sermon review at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday). It was awesome…God spoke to me. The topic was how Jesus handled stress in the final hours of the cross. It’s always a powerful message when you speak about the power of Jesus’ cross.
I really appreciate Jim for teaching because my family is about to start our annual vacation. I am PUMPED for it this year. I mean REALLY pumped. Unusually pumped. This afternoon, I went around "high-5-ing" the kids, and my wife asked, "What’s up with you? You’re normally not talking about the vacation until packing at 3 a.m. the night before!"
(She’s right. Usually I’m so hammered with final details that I can’t start enjoying it yet. But today, I had just put the finishing touches on my message for Sunday, July 15 through 1 John 3:1-10 called "Knowing God’s Children." I always feel the incredible weight & responsibility of that role lift when I get to that point.)
Anyway, after doing the sermon review with Jim and dropping my offering for the next couple weeks in the offering box (seriously), I went church-hopping. I think it’s valuable to go church-hopping, if you do it once-in-a-while and you do it with intentionality. Where did I attend church today? The Olathe Campus of our friends at Christ Community Church.
Christ Community started as a Bible study 19 years ago and turned into a church 18 years ago. They have been our partners in ministry the last few years as we’ve held a joint men’s basketball league. Their Senior Pastor is Tom Nelson, a man of integrity, intelligence, and passion for Christ.
Here are some thoughts about my morning:
- On my way over, I swung by the parking lot of Westside Family Church‘s
video-venue site located in the Palazzo Theater exactly 3 miles north
of our location. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to pop-in, but
I did get to experience something else. My heart started racing with
nervousness about walking in and meeting new people. Me! Reminded me
about how HUGE a deal it is when people take a risk,
conquer their fears about meeting new people, and visit a church for
the first time. I’ve heard that people decide whether to return to a
church in the first 7 minutes. This means the "first impressions" our Grace volunteers make mean EVERYTHING
to whether a visitor will allow us to shepherd them further in a
relationship with Christ. How people feel from the parking lot and
front doors, all the way to how parents are greeted in the children’s
ministry matters! We’ve got to avoid both bad extremes:
- The "we’re-ignoring-you" cold shoulder
- The "we’re-freakishly-over-the-top" too friendly
One of the reasons I visited Christ Community was to see what a "video-venue church" looks like. I expected the video screen. I did not expect it to be attached to the floor, projecting a life-sized Tom right where he would have been standing if he was there. The e-Tom was very cool. 🙂 (You’ve got to click on the picture to see my vantage point from the back row…yup, back row.)
- Arrived a couple minutes late. Two friendly guys shook my hand and held open the door. Grabbed a cup of coffee on the way in. (Mmmm…pretty rich.) Broke my good eating habits recently by popping a chocolate donut hole in my mouth. (Mmmm…pretty bad for you.)
- After receiving a worship guide at the entrance to the auditorium, I grabbed a seat on the back pew. (Why is it that people will pay top dollar to sit on the front row of sporting events and concerts, but the best seats are in the back of a house of worship? Maybe it’s because we instinctively know we’re going to be meeting with God in a special way…don’t get too close, my friend!) 🙂
Tom Nelson’s message was great. He is an animated orator of the Bible with the ability to weave humor into the message which provides lighter moments. His message was from Daniel 2:24-49 in series called "Courage to Stand: A Story of Integrity and Influence". He can turn a phrase too, as when he said Daniel was "tethered to the Torah, and truth, and the one true God." (I wrote that one down.)
Finally, though I missed communion with Grace today, I had the chance to celebrate it with my fellow believers at Christ Community. Two church leaders stood at far ends of the stage with a platter of bread chunks and wide-mouthed cup of juice. Each person stepped up to take a chunk of bread, dip it into the cup, and partake, while the leader recited Jesus words from 1 Corinthians 11:23-25.
All in all, a great day of "church-hopping." 🙂 Vacation starts tomorrow!