Not long ago I got a slap up along side of the head about how and why some churches grow. I have a friend who’s on the pastoral staff of a large church not far from us. I mean a very large church. About 20,000 people attend every weekend (before the pandemic) on eight separate campuses in the same city. They send the worship service via live stream from the central campus, and eight different staffs care for and pastor the worshipers, all of whom hear – and see – the same sermon. It takes a total of 1,200 volunteers on the several campuses every week just to make all the moving pieces work.
I called up my friend and asked if we could have lunch together. My theology is sacred; my methodology is not so I wanted to go to school on him. He graciously arranged his calendar so we could rendezvous at the restaurant of his choice. It’s probably not the place I would have chosen, but it was his pastoral passion I was interested in, not the menu.
About half way through our meal a bus pulled up outside the eatery and forty or so high school students came thundering in where we were eating. Immediately the noise level went off the chart. He leaned toward me so I could hear and said, “This is why I come here.”
To make sure I understood, he went on, “Most everybody I talk to and work with has some connection with my church, and if I’m not careful I can lose contact with those I am supposed to be reaching for Jesus. So most Friday mornings I come here with my laptop and set up temporary office. I know the manager and most of the staff… occasionally I help clear tables, but my purpose is to rub shoulders with these kids, listen to them talk, get acquainted. I pray a lot. Sometimes I can engage them in some spiritual issue; sometimes I just listen. I know many of them by name and over time we’ve been able to watch quite a few of them surrender their lives to Christ.”
An aha moment? Felt more like an aha half hour. My friend went to where the people are who need him. What an inspired idea. Seems like something God would do. That setting wouldn’t be my first choice of the ideal place to spend half a day every week, but this isn’t about me. And of course I might get criticized by some if I got caught there; so did Jesus. It didn’t both Him, either.
List at least three things you think Jesus might have wanted me to learn from my friend?
By Don Jacobsen