Let's start here: What's up with the steps and the "teaching stage"? a couple of weeks ago we removed the steps that stretch across the front of our stage to make room for the equipment our director of sound, Dan Fulkerson needed to install our new sound system. As I mentioned on vision Sunday in October...our old system was ten years old and on it's death bed. So yesterday we debuted a sleek, new and much more efficient sound system. I've always thought a little lower and further out platform for me to preach from would be more intimate. So instead of putting the steps back we used some of our movable stage pieces to make what I preached on yesterday. Loved it! Made me feel closer to everyone as I preached. We'll see what happens there in the future.
Message on fruit trees yesterday was convicting. Take these two questions with you this week: What kind of fruit are you bearing? and What kind of tree would others say you are? Ouch! Don't you just love conviction? By the way, showed a watermelon for fun yesterday...yes it is my favorite fruit. When Sara and I were engaged in college she used to go by a Knoxville mall just to pick up watermelon flavored popcorn from a store there.
Recently, some people have asked why we don't do special Sundays with special speakers (I get people all the time who say, "why don't you have so and so come and speak?") with big "crowd drawing" programs and events. Well, a couple of years ago we decided to really push our vision. Bottom line, we have one strategy for getting people to Jesus. We expect all the people at Eastview to be "passionately engaged in outreach". This means that all of our church growth is contingent on believers loving those outside of Christ enough to share their faith and get them engaged with our church or some other church. That's it. We believe that nurtured followers of Christ will get the job done of evangelization. And it's working. Other implications of this strategy are these:
1. Since we don't focus time, money and energy on big production Sundays we can focus our energy on every Sunday. To us, there are 52 really important days of the year and we work hard to make them moving, spiritual, biblical, and relevant.
2. If you bring a visitor to church on Sunday, they will experience pretty much what we do every Sunday. In other words, you can really show them who we are because each Sunday is consistent.
3. Since i and a few staff members do all of the preaching, we can extensively plan and execute a teaching schedule that we think will best allow our people to grow. There are a lot of great preachers in the world, but God has placed us here to minister in this place and since we love to preach...this works well.
4. We can sustain this. A good friend of mine says that many churches fail because they grow with programs that they can't sustain over the long haul. Well we know that until Jesus comes back we can dedicate ourselves to preaching the word, prayer, musical worship, giving and remembering the Lord's death, small groups, serving and spreading the good news of Jesus. We can and by God's strength will sustain this over the long haul.
OK. that was longer than I expected it to be. Hope you have a good week. And in case you're wondering, yes I'm finally tired of snow now. Don't worry...spring will come. God promised after the ark and the flood that the seasons would continue...check it out in Genesis.