"The height of your praise on Resurrection Sunday will be determined by the depth of your remembrance on Good Friday." This was the message tonight at the Council Road Baptist Church Good Friday service. Take a moment tonight to remember the cross before you go to bed tonight. It will make your worship Sunday all the better. As the saying goes "Until sin taste bitter, Christ will not taste sweet."
It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!”
<iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ubGCISQQ7Zo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>
I love the Thunder. Too much. I don't just go to games, I eat up every bit of Thunder commentary I can. I even tried creating a weekly Thunder podcast with my good friend Landry. It has made me think I know way more about basketball than I actually do. My cousin was playing in a little league game at The Cube this weekend and it was SO PAINFUL watching these kids run around like chickens with their heads cut off It is truly an idol for me that I could use your prayer in helping me break! However, that is for another post. You will probably be seeing a lot of Thunder-related posts if you follow this worthless blog.
In their first playoff appearance, OKC was pushing the title-favorite LA Lakers as an 8 seed. They were down in the series 3-2 in OKC and clinging to a 1-point lead as the final seconds ticked down with the basketball in the hands of the greatest closer of his generation, Kobe Bryant. Westbrook forced a Kobe miss only to have Pau Gasol tip in the go-ahead basket. With half a second left, Westbrook tried an impossible 3 that hit the front iron. There was a collective gasp. Losing in OKC is a rare thing. A sad sigh. The Thunder were just eliminated from their first every playoff appearance. Then, a slow applause that built to a roaring cheer and a standing ovation from a packed arena.
A follow-up article can be found here of a reporter describing the scene.
When it happened, I started looking around for the reason. Is there a fight? Why are they cheering? NBA crowds don't cheer at this time, or with this much passion. This wasn't half-hearted, over-the-shoulder applause by fans who were headed for the exits. This was 16,000 people standing and staring at the court and loving a losing team. This lasted almost five minutes. A half hour after the game, Brooks said the crowd's response had torn up his team, in a good way. "They're pretty emotional in there," Brooks said of his players in the OKC locker room. "Because of the crowd."
He couldn't understand it. Here was a city "loving a losing team." Professional sports is supposed to be about loving winning and hating losing. You are defined by your achievements. I loved it because it was a picture of the Gospel.
God's love for you is not because of what you've done. God's love is not even based on who you are. God's love is based on who God is. If you are in Christ, you are loved not for your performance, but for Christ's performance. See the loser that is loved that doesn't deserve it is ME. But I am not the Thunder pushing goodness to the brink of being like Christ. I am on my cousin's terrible little league team. And God chooses to love a loser like me.
What do you think? Have you ever seen a picture God's unconditional love in an unusual way?
The “Left Behind” books scared me to death as a kid. I don’t know why Tim LaHaye wrote such a book - especially a kids’ version - concerning the end times and what the rapture could look like. Brother Mark Hartman teaching through Revelation didn’t help to ease my fears much at all. Anytime I couldn’t find my mom in the house while I was growing up, I would immediately assume the rapture had happened, and I had been “left behind”. Then I would hear the garage door going up and realize mom was just returning from the grocery store. I would say the sinner’s prayer about 10 times, then go about my day.
I’m not asking the question, “Will Council Road will be dead in 2050?” because of the rapture, or because there were only a few of the most holy who braved the elements to make it to church yesterday (just kidding!), but rather because of the shifting cultural and religious landscape in the United States.It is no secret that Christianity is on the decline in our nation. Young adult church attendance is on the decline (52 percent of young adults in the U.S. have not attended church in the past six months).
Businesses for a while have recognized the importance of reaching the next generation, named “The Millennials”, and it seems churches are beginning to reach out to my generation as well. However, what will it take? What would it look like for our church to reach my generation and not be a dead/dying church in 2050 and beyond? The big question: What is the key factor in reaching young adults for Council Road?
Not what you were expecting? Consider the research from a recent Barna study: a young adult (or Millennial) who had an adult mentor at church, other than the pastor or church staff, was nearly three times more likely to go to church. They were twice as likely to remain active in church if they just had a close personal friend who was an adult.
Hear me: We will never make our church cool enough for young adults. We will never have a good enough staff to reach young adults in OKC. The burden does not fall simply on our giving and the Cube to reach the next generation. The Omega House is an ideal coffee house “feel” that is inviting to young adults, but the key is experiencing the Gospel lived out in the body of Christ. Millennials know what it means to have friends who selflessly love them, but they need to see adults who sacrifice their own time and preferences to invest in them.
What does all of this mean? My generation of young adults is depending on a generation of adults to take the Gospel seriously. They are NOT looking for adult friendships from people who have been in church. They are looking for adult friendships with people who have walked with Jesus and can show them what it looks like to be a businessman, teacher, journalist, medical student, etc. who loves and serves Christ and his Church. What young adults are longing for is what we were ALL created for: DISCIPLESHIP.
Here are some practical actions steps you can take:
1. Pray - Pray for the next generation. Children, students, college, and Millennials all need prayers. Pray that believers would be prepared to suffer. No doubt, we will be a generation marked by suffering - though not nearly to the degree brothers and sisters in Christ worldwide suffer for the cause of the Gospel.
2. Give - Did you know our church is behind in giving to our budget? When you give of your tithes and offerings to our general budget, part of what you support is our efforts to reach young adults with the Gospel. We depend on your support! (As a side note, young adults are to give their tithes and offerings as well! We discussed the biblical tithe in our Connection Group this past week.)
3. Disciple - If you are already connected to students/young adults, reach out to them! Ask them to get some coffee or ice cream, and ask them to share how they became a Christian, then share your story! Read a little from the Bible, and talk about what it means. Discipleship doesn’t have to be intimidating and intense - make it simple! You will triple their chances of being part of the church. Maybe you love children. There is a lot of opportunity to bless kids on Sunday mornings! If you would like any help in engaging in discipleship with any of these groups, email me at email@example.com - or you can email Sam,Landry or Micah directly.
Will Council Road be a dead/dying church in 2050? The better question is:Will Council Road be a church that is making disciples of the next generation in 2014? I am so grateful to have grown up in a church that sacrificed for me as a child, a student and now as a young adult. Praise God that my biggest fear growing up was getting “left behind.”