Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Downside of Big Events (part 3)

I know there are people who read my last two posts that are yelling at their screens, "There's nothing wrong with big events. They're found all over in scripture. Read the book of Acts!"

I know. I read my bible too. :)

But for a minute let's look at the approach the apostles took. I think they did it differently than we tend to do it.

We tend to plan. I think they simply prepared. There's a difference.

Let's start with the ultimate big event found in scripture - Pentecost. No doubt it was big. 3000 salvations in one sermon - all without a sound system.

The apostles didn't plan the event. They were prepared for it.

They weren't in the upper room day after day coaching Peter on what points to cover in the sermon. They didn't put Pentecost on the calendar. They didn't print out an order of service or announce a big gathering. They didn't even have to come up with a "sermon hook". God did all that for them. But, realize it or not at the time, they were preparing for Pentecost by praying together constantly.

But Pentecost is just one example. Sure, there are examples in Acts where they planned to go to such and such a city. In most cases, the plan consisted of going to the synagogue and reasoning with the Jews there. Nothing much beyond that. Never once do we read where Paul says, "Hey, Silas. Let's go to Philippi and get thrown into prison." Yet there was a jailer who needed Jesus and they were prepared to share.

I submit that we probably overplan. If we're always planning the next big thing, we can miss the thing God drops right into our laps.

In Acts 8 God tells Philip to travel the road that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza. Philip had experienced Pentecost and a number of other great "big events". Most of us would assume that the next big thing is going to happen in Gaza because God said to go there. Not so. Philip seems to have been put on the road to find an Ethiopian who was reading scripture. He was prepared to talk with the guy, and baptized him on the spot.

I wonder if I would have walked right past him in my hurry to get to Gaza???

TIf forced to choose, the best thing we can do for our teens is to teach them to be prepared, not to plan. Events tend emphasize the latter.

1 comment:

akhud1 said...

big events are measurable, "easier", more hands off, and "cleaner". I think that's why they're so popular. They also type up nicely in brochure's and websites. They do play a role, I'm just stating my thoughts on why the church over does it on them.

The type of ministry proposed here is intentional, hard to quantify the effectiveness, puts God's back in control, engages the least of these, and will take more out of you. It also forces church's to truly affirm and flesh out the value of people over programs.

to stay with the thought of providing solutions instead of griping, we should get rid of our buildings. If there were no buildings, what would we do? in my opinion, we'd be forced to pursue people. As much as I try and stay away from the "build it and they will come" model that I used to make fun of, it's a trap I very comfortably fall into.

If we had no buildings, the leaders we recruit would know what was required of them, we couldn't rely on programs to be our connection points because they wouldn't have a home unless we pursued people to find a location. I could go on, but that's a start at least.

Do I see a building demolition happening? (if it did, it would be a sweet big event, we could get a band, and a speaker...jk) No, but I do think living out a missional life where we embrace the fact that they won't show up if we don't pursue is a start.