About half way through the 10:30 Mass this morning here at Ridgely Road, during the Creed, Austin (a Sunday staffer) came over to me and whispered “Crowne Plaza is filled.”
It was one of those moments that I will easily remember for a long time, maybe forever.
It is great when you get to see God at work, when you’re involved in a God-ordained project. Everybody involved in Crowne Plaza worked hard of course, and we took a risk, a big risk, and we prayed and some people even fasted and lots of people made invitations to their friends. And we filled Crowne Plaza, at least the space we were in today. That is thrilling and exciting and only possible because it is a God-ordained project. So, what next?
Our potential and our future are unlimited. Unlimited.
The problem in some church communities is that they do a good or great thing, God moves among them in some strong or powerful way and then they spend the next decade or so either trying to reproduce the same thing over and over again, or they just stop altogether and sit on their laurels, pat themselves on the back, congratulate one another. Here’s what Scripture says:
Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.
God is doing a new thing, God is always doing new things. And he’s willing to include us and use us if we’ll stop worshiping the past, if we’ll give up our complacent comfort zone which is the status quo and get focused on what he is going to be doing up ahead.
It was not so long ago that our Sunday morning Masses were very formal, very traditional, very ordinary. They were what I was use to, and well within my comfort zone. Its what I knew how to do. Problem was, Sunday morning wasn’t growing, it was dying. Meanwhile our very contemporary casual style Sunday evening service was exploding with growth and excitement and energy. Much as I hated to admit it, I was wrong and headed in the wrong direction. When we admitted our mistake and started heading where God was blessing, we started to see Sunday morning take off too. And that was great. But we kept exploring where the potential was for more, where God would lead us next to do more. That’s how we ended up at Crowne Plaza this morning. And I guess that’s why Crowne Plaza was filled this morning because we were just being faithful to his basic command to love him, love one another and make disciples.
We need to celebrate the potential for so much more that God wants to do among us. This Lent lets…
1. Pray like we’ve never prayed before. I need to want and desire God desperately, more desperately than I ever have before. To do that, I need to pray more, more than I ever have before. Let’s pray that God draw more people to himself through our church. Pray for your neighbor’s and friends who don’t have a church, pray for your family that doesn’t want to go to church.
2. Serve like we’ve never served before. For me, this means getting the weekend message up to the very highest level God has given me the ability to achieve as well as offering more support and encouragement for our staff and volunteer staff. For the staff and volunteer ministry staff that means renewed dedication to their responsibilities and firing up their passion and excitement for what’s ahead.
3. Invite (like we’ve never invited before). People come to church settings because other people they like and trust invite them. Period. One invitation is worth more than thousands of dollars in TV ads or outdoor advertising. Direct mail is mostly junk mail. Personal invitations work…at least eventually. So don’t give up on that person you’ve been trying to reach. Just keep making that invitation, its the Lord’s role to get them here.
This season of life we are entering into at Church of the Nativity is a season of vast, unlimited potential; we haven’t even begun to see what God wants to do here, among us. Just wait (and pray and serve and invite) and see what he does next.
PS, Crowne Plaza isn’t really filled, the room we were in today was filled today, next week we’ll get a larger room…so there will be plenty of seats for your guests.