church unplugged

Yesterday, we arrived at 8:15am at the Thomas Crossroads Elementary School where our new church (browns mill church) has been meeting since we launched weekly worship gatherings on March 15, 2009. The doors are usually unlocked and the cafeteria fully lit. However, yesterday, this was not the case. The janitor, Mr. Penny, who always does such a great job for us, was nowhere to be seen.

We unloaded the trailer on the sidewalk outside the school in hopes that he would show up to let us in any moment. Soon, it was 9:00am, then 10:00am and we were still outside shivering on the sidewalk with all our stuff. We knew something was wrong. Mr. Penny had been hospitalized about a week previous with chest pains and his blood pressure out of whack. It turns out, that he was back in the hospital, this time in ICU.

As stressful a situation as it could have been for us–a brand new church plant holding only our 3rd weekend worship gathering–we took it in stride. It gave us a chance to communicate to those who came that you can have church without the sound system, lights, pipe & drape, etc. Fortunately, we had already had these type of conversations internally. In fact, we had talked about intentionally doing a “stripped down” setup just so people don’t get too dependent on all the stuff we use to “do church.”

Well, yesterday gave us the opportunity to try it out whether we wanted to or not. It turned out to be a great day! It was truly an unplugged church service! No mics, amps or lights. Guess what? We felt God’s presence in a very powerful way as we focused on Luke 2 together. It was actually a very powerful object lesson as there were many unexpected interruptions in Joseph & Mary’s lives as they awaited the birth of their child–the Savior of the world.

It was comforting to know that we could have our gathering without all the stuff and everyone (including me!) was OK with it! So we know firsthand. You don’t need all that stuff to be the church–not that there’s anything wrong with that (the stuff)!

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whew!

Yesterday was the first ever worship gathering of browns mill church. What a day! It was so exciting to see months of preparation and planning pay off with the birth of a brand new work of God in Coweta County. We had 47 adults and 28 children who attended for a total of 75 on our first Sunday. In addition, we were blessed with an absolutely astounding amount of giving without even passing the offering basket (our offering basket is on a back table). However, the most exciting part about the day was the fact that this church is returning to the original mission that Jesus gave His Church–to make disciples.

Tim did not sugar coat the truth in his message. It was a clear call to surrender from Luke 9:23. The Church in America has a love affair with “victory.” We teach on having victory in our finances, our marriage, our thought life, our parenting. The list could go on and on. But what Jesus values most is surrender. He wants all of us. The truth is that following Jesus is difficult. It is sometimes painful. It can be lonely. But there is nothing that compares to living a life of total surrender to the will and ways of Jesus. It is a life of abandonment, risk and adventure! Although it is not a “seeker-sensitive” message in the traditional sense, we believe that there is nothing that would speak to the heart of the seeker than this.

After we packed everything into the trailer and sloshed home through the rain, Suzanne and I crashed on the couch for an hour or so. It had been a long couple of weeks with nights filled with projects–building a projection screen out of PVC and a king-sized bed sheet, ironing a dozen bed sheets for the preschool pipe & drape walls, and many other miscellaneous tasks. It was both exhausting and exhilarating at the same time!