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)!