The best way to describe worship yesterday was intense. From the opening song to the final blessing, it was full-blast, in-your-face intense. I had so many people say afterwards, "that was an incredible service."
But here's the deal: we didn't really do things much differently than usual. Other than the Foo Fighters song, every song we sang we'd done before, I didn't really preach that much differently than usual. So what was the difference? Right here was the difference - link. Although we didn't hit our goal of 40 hours, we had 23 hours committed to praying for yesterday's service. 23 hours!
That's why yesterday was so intense! Just imagine if we had people praying every weekend? Maybe not 23 hours, but people praying for our services. I put in quite a bit of prayer every week for the church and for our Sunday service. So, I'm laying down the challenge for others; who else will commit to praying for our services?
Why is it worth praying for Sunday services? Because just as we did yesterday, every Sunday we have people in our services that don't yet know Jesus. There's an emotional, physical and spiritual battle happening over people's eternal allegiance every single Sunday. A battle that has an eternal significance.
And I knew I was in a battle yesterday, I could feel it the entire day. I don't believe it was a coincidence that Erin and I started our day with a stupid fight that ended with Erin in tears. I was sitting in the other room trying to run through my message again but I couldn't focus. I realized, "I'm being distracted from the important stuff about to happen today, I WON'T let the enemy win this way." And after realizing that, God told me, "if you want to be prepared to lead worship today, you need to first go confess your sin to your wife and make things right with her." So we talked through it and were both glad our consciences could be clear and our minds focused on what was about to happen. Stories of kids throwing fits on Easter, things distracting us so we aren't in worship on such an important day - they aren't coincidences.
Right now I'm feeling like I ran a marathon yesterday (without the foot cramps). I am so WIPED out. But I know why, yesterday was a battle. If you'd been able to see all the hands that were raised when I called for a response after the message, you'd know why yesterday was so important. People's entire live and eternities were being impacted yesterday! And you want to know why so many people who aren't yet followers of Jesus were there to hear the message of the Resurrection? Because of invitations! Yep, all because of invitations.
There was one new family there that came to the Late Night Easter Egg Hunt because Melissa, Cole and Cailey Billings were passing out flyers in their neighborhood. Several of the families were invited by Travis Bottcher and a few more by Emily Crow. It's amazing how we see a couple formerly unchurched people give their lives to Jesus and suddenly they're bringing all of their unchurched friends! That really is amazing! Last Easter, I pounded the invite drum over and over and the only unchurched family there was invited by Erin and me (although I know we weren't the only ones that invited). Travis and Emily have given their lives to Christ since last Easter and they brought a ton of friends this Easter.
What happens is that the longer we're in a church and following Jesus, the more isolated we become from unchurched people. The longer we're Christ-followers the more intentional we have to become about building relationships with unchurched people. Which by the way, is exactly what Fave Five is all about. But when a churched person is able to lead an unchurched person to Christ, that suddenly opens up a huge door to connecting with more future Christ-followers (to avoid the 'un' words).
I hope you were able to hear the Echoes of Easter yesterday! I heard the echoes as people all across the sanctuary were making commitments to the Risen Christ!
Here are a few more random thoughts:
- Although we had just a handful more people in attendance this Easter than last Easter, the potential from this year's numbers are a ton higher than last year. Last year, we had only one new family but everyone else in the church was there. This year, we had a bunch of new families and were also missing several regular/semi-regular families. If everyone who calls TF home had been there yesterday we really wouldn't have had seats for everyone.
- It was really nice to be set-up already. I didn't get to church until 9:30! I almost felt guilty.
- I want to encourage those who invited but were disappointed that their friends didn't come. You planted a seed. Keep at it. It can take 13 invitations (on average - per a study) before a person finally comes to church with you.
- I watched the Passion of the Christ on Saturday night and it had me fired up for Resurrection morning.
- Travis Bottcher's testimony was powerful. I saw a lot of tears when I got back up. It's even more powerful considering some of the stuff he's faced recently. After he was done, I gave him a hug and told him "that was ballsy." Although one person said it looked like I was kissing him. Sorry, Travis.
- The band did an incredible job; they nailed Come Alive. I told them that when the Foo Fighters play that song at the concert we're going to in July, we'll tell David Grohl and company, "that was good, but you should've heard it at TFC on Easter." The guys thought I was going a bit overboard. But they really worked hard in preparation for Easter.
- My wife put in hours of work on the images we used as background for the last two songs; it was how she spent her spring break.
- My head was pounding and I wanted to take a nap so badly but I had to go do the service at the nursing home at 3:00 Sunday afternoon. My self-pity got stronger when I showed up and there were only 4 people there because several others were with their family. But just as I started to speak, Pastor Andy and the Kelvingtons showed up and it brightened my day. Thanks for being there!
- The first take I did of yesterday's video announcement was much less corny than the one we actually showed but my face was in shadow during the whole thing. But we couldn't do a third take because the PRMS band started playing just as we finished the second. I was told I used "excited" a few too many times. I also had people in awe of how quickly I got to PRMS for the 'live feed.' Yep, it was cheesy. And that idea came to me on Saturday when I realized it would be cold enough to wear a sweater.
- I'm EXCITED about our move! It's a big step, kind of risky considering how we'll bounce around in the auditorium. But the same motivation that prompted me to plant a church is prompting me to lead us into this move. I'd rather fail than maintain status quot!
- Thank you to all who worked in the kids area on Sunday. You couldn't have been doing a more evangelistic thing than serving the kids of new families yesterday!
- I finally beat Medal of Honor last night, Cole Billings can get his game back.
- If you were wondering about the camera lady, we're redoing our website and looking for more pictures. Here are some of the ones Marriam took yesterday. Really good pictures.