A couple of weeks ago on an overnight in New Hampshire, I had a really cool experience with our group of students that made me think about Church and what it’s all about.
After a long day of working for the camp and deep cleaning 3 different buildings, we decided to take some time to listen to a sermon together and talk about it afterwards.
Since I am a big Rob Bell fan, I got out my MP3 and we put on a sermon of his entitled The Weasel Effect (http://marshill.org/teaching/2010/08/01/the-weasel-factor). The sermon took a look at Matthew 5:38-42 and the importance of watching our words and following through on what we say.
I knew going in that the sermon would be a bit of a stretch for some of the students 1) because of the length and 2) because it was only the audio and most of the students would describe themselves as visual learners. Sure enough, throughout the sermon a couple of kids dozed off, one left to go to the bathroom and a couple of others began doodling as they zoned out. The grand finally was provided by a student who farted which proceeded to fill half the room with a horrible stink.
So the sermon ends and we gather together to talk about what everyone got out of the sermon and what they were thinking about now and to be honest, based on the above I wasn’t expecting much. But, God had other plans that really inspired me.
As we began to talk, one by one the students shared different pieces of the sermon and their thoughts about what stuck out or challenged them. Nolan was really challenged by one part…and that happened to be the part Gabby missed because she dozed off. Megan loved a different part which was when Nolan went down to the bathroom. Patti had a question about another part and Ashley a completely different question which were answered by two different students.
On and on our conversation went just like that until it dawned on me that we had discussed pretty much every aspect of the sermon over the previous 30 minutes. When we were done I was left with a feeling that something really cool had just happened. I looked at the students and just said, “This is what the church is supposed to be about!”
The Church is supposed to be a gathering of people who get together and encourage one another towards Christ and that was exactly what happened. No one was “the leader” of the conversation and everyone had at different points missed something but yet because of everyone being involved and giving towards the conversation we were all benefited and challenged.
There were also no bells and whistles involved. No band, no speaker and there were only 10 of us. Set up took all of 30 seconds. We just sat in a room, listened to an MP3 players and then sat and talked together and then prayed together. The bells and whistles aren’t bad in themselves but sometimes they do more to distract us from Jesus and one another when that is really what is most important.
We have made church out to be so many extra things when really it is simply about people coming together to encouraging one another to be like Christ. That’s it. It doesn’t matter where that happens, how that happens or how many are involved. If you have people and a combined effort to grow in your relationship with Christ and with one another, you are being the church. Let us focus on having more times like this in our youth ministries and churches.