Saturday, February 7, 2015

Church today is just a trailer

Do you ever feel like the church sermon on Sunday is just a trailer or a 15 minute advertisement for Sunday school? I remember back when I was a kid growing up I usually went to two different churches. One was Calvary Advent Christian Church pastored by Jim Lee and the other was a small church in Hudson, North Carolina that I don’t remember the name of.

I remember going to this smaller church with Donna and her son Bryson who was my best friend. I remember there were times when this preacher would get into the Holy Spirit and the words would start flowing. He’d make an announcement that it’s about 12 PM that if you had somewhere to be that you could leave but he was going to keep on preaching. And he would. Sometimes we wouldn’t get out of church till 1 o’clock. I hated it as a kid but these were some of the best memories I had of church. You truly got the meaning because you could see their sermons were from the heart and off the cuff. They may have started from a script of notes but they didn’t end that way. These are the sermons I like.

Another time when I was at Calvary Advent Christian Church I remember Jim Lee voicing his aggravation about all the announcements and other stuff that was taking away from his preaching time. I remember Jim didn’t always stop at 12 PM like most churches. Sometimes he stopped at 12:15 or 12:30 if the message really needed it and you could always hear a few people grumble. I commend him for this because these were the messages I got the most out of. Sermons shouldn’t have a time limit.

Why don’t preachers today run over time? I feel like churches today have to be done by a specific time or else. I’ve heard preachers say before “I know I have 20 minutes but I shoot for 15 minutes so I don’t make anyone mad if I run over”. I feel like when preachers are just preaching to meet a specific time slot they aren’t actually preaching and just reciting an essay. It feels like I’m listening to the trailer of a sermon and if you want the full message you must go to Bible study class. Preachers should preach about a message from the heart and not just some Bible notes they threw down. I can usually tell when a preacher is preaching from the heart and the message has less value when they aren’t. I hate it when a preacher gets into a message, looks up and they have 5 minutes left and give you the short version of the rest of the sermon so they make their time slot. I’m pretty sure God didn’t say church had to start and stop at a specific time. So why don’t preachers of today’s time preach like preachers of the 80’s and 90’s? I’m a long version kind of guy when it comes to sermons. I love to sit back and hear a good 1 hour sermon. I beam from ear to ear because I know this is the good stuff. I’m about to get a life changing message hear. Call me old fashioned but this is me.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Revolution Recap

WOW! Where do we go from here? If you didn’t go then I can’t explain the feeling you have. It’s just indescribable. The Bethany Youth always amaze me in the love they have for Christ. This past weekend I had the opportunity to go to Revolution 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina. What did I take away from this trip?

The week leading up to Revolution was complete chaos for me. This week was grocery week and we are preparing for a big software release at work. Along with all my other commitments, there never seemed to be enough time in the day for sleep. I knew going into Friday was going to be rough and I prayed I could just stay awake for these youth on Friday. The drive up to Columbia was short and I think the anticipation kept me awake the whole time. We arrived at the Township Auditorium about 7 PM on Friday night. I was in complete “WOW” of everything. The music, the venue, the staff. Everything was awesome and far exceed any expectations I previously had about the event. As the music played and the kids danced I realized at one point that I no longer need alcohol to have fun in a setting like this. I’m a shy person in public but I’m slowly working on fixing that. This has never been something I liked about myself. I also realized that as adults, if we just have fun and embrace the moment we are all teenagers on the inside, just with more responsibilities. We capped the night off by taking everyone to Krispy Kreme donuts at 10:30 at night.

Saturday was another fun filled day. I remember one of the best parts of my morning was waking up and scanning through Twitter and Instagram for the hash tag #RevSC. It was a heart warming moment to see the comments the kids at the event were posting. We started the morning off by volunteering at a Agape Senior center for a couple hours. The kids worked hard and got to hang out with the Seniors at the center. It was a heart warming moment. I was also appreciative that I was given the opportunity to take 13 youth to the center with another adult. We met for lunch at a local church for pizza. Here I got to sit down and just get to talk with a few youth. I always value the time I have just to sit down and connect with what it going on in their lives. After lunch we headed off to the Township Auditorium for a few more sessions of the day. The last session of the day was the session I remembered the most. I got to see over 20 youth kids from Bethany go down front and be moved by the Holy Spirit. The best part of the trip was after the last session Will had the 20 or so kids meet in his room to talk to these kids and I was invited. I really got to know how they felt and to share some information of my journey with Christ with them. About 2 AM all the youth left to go back to their rooms and I got to do some brainstorming with Will for about an hour. It’s always good when you get some one-on-one time with someone you look up to. We both have very busy lives and never really get time to sit down and just talk very often.

Sunday we packed up from the hotel and drove to the Township Auditorium for the last session of the event. Royal Tailor, DJ Frank Clark, and Big Redd blew the roof off the place again for a third day. We had another great session by Jonathon McKee and then it was over. We stopped somewhere on the edge of Columbia to get lunch before we headed home. I had talked to Will prior to leaving the auditorium that I wanted to talk to the youth one last time before we got back to Summerville since Will wasn’t coming back with us. This was my first opportunity I’ve had to really speak to the kids as a whole. This is something Will usually does so I was a bit nervous and tried to stay to my notes I had taken earlier during the day. I talked to them about keeping Christ in the Center of everything they do and to not let their flame be dimmed by the rest of the world as they go back to their normal lives.

The drive home was rather fun. We jammed out to Royal Tailor music all the way back to Summerville. I got to think about some thoughts as I always do when I’m driving. That’s my thinking time. Here’s something I thought of. A life as a Christian is like the core values of the US Air Force.

  • Integrity first
  • Service before self
  • Excellence in all you do

I could probably preach a 15 minute session on these alone since that are something I’ve pretty much lived my whole life by. I had some other personal thoughts about myself I need to work on changing and I’m slowly making a plan to do those.

I’m surprised how much I was able to stay awake through out the whole weekend. I went 4 days straight of being awake 20 hours a day going wide open and never really got tired. Maybe it was adrenaline. Maybe it was the Holy Spirit. What ever it was, I was surprised that I was able to still do that. One of the best parts was waking up ever morning and scrolling through Twitter and Instagram looking at the posts. I have to say I love being around  and connecting with everyone of these kids. This trip was definitely a confirmation of what God has called me to do and I hope the love and drive I have for youth ministry never dies out.

Matthew 28:19

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” ~ Jesus