I had a friend who had a friend who was asked to help a little church with music. I believe he was asked to play the piano. Something like that. So he went and he helped.
My friend of a friend got word about the church service and he told me about it. I remember him saying something like, “There’s an auditorium that seats about 200 but there’s only 10 or so people there, maybe we could do something with that.”
So I went to the church for myself and was greeted kindly and warmly with hand shakes and southern accents. My wheels started turning.
At the time I was the chaplain of my society at Bob Jones University here in Greenville. So on Sunday morning and Wednesday night I was teaching the Bible to a group of about 50 guys.
I invited all of my society guys to come out to the church on a Sunday night. In the matter of a week or two the church went from 10 to about 60. If I would have turned the numbers in to Outreach Magazine we probably would have been pretty high up on the fastest growing list.
As the semesters went on, my society guys brought friends and girlfriends making our crowd even bigger. Joe Brader led music with the help of some others and they even put together a choir and solos. I got to preach along with some other guys and a few of us got to put together some outreach events.
As a 21 year old, I was getting the chance to do some real-deal church ministry along side my friends. Besides being blessed with a place where we felt like we belonged, we actually got the experience necessary to help shape some of our future ministries. I can truly say that Sunday nights in that little church were some of the greatest nights of my life. Just 50-80 college kids and 10 or so older folks making much of Jesus.
Let me tell you what I saw there - these 10 or so folks had true and genuine faith that God was for them.
When the church had dwindled down to only a handful, did they throw it away? Did they give up? No. They continued. Even when this little church looked around at an empty auditorium they held together knowing that God could bring life back to them. And he did. They remind me of Abraham who was willing to sacrifice Isaac believing that God would raise him from the dead. That’s what faith is.
Faith is continuing when what you’re doing doesn’t seem to be working, but you know its right. Faith is continuing when what you’re into doesn’t seem to be relevant, but you know it’s your calling. Faith is looking at broken things and seeing something God will fix, not as something God has abandoned. Faith is enduring the waiting period between when God kills something and when God brings something back to life.
This is something the next generation of church will have to learn. Because there will come a time when we aren’t relevant and what we’re doing won’t be working. All of our efforts will be broken at some point. God will kill what we thought was alive.
There’s only one way to get through the inevitable valleys we’re heading for and that’s genuine faith, which we should be building right now.
Though this kind of faith is hard, it’s worth it. It’s always worth it.
When you see someone who’s in their 20s in full gospel unity with someone in their 60’s it’s beautiful.
When you see a young man with a passion for music getting a chance to lead a group of musicians and bless a congregation it’s phenomenal.
When you see college girls who were recently saved sharing their stories from the stage your mind is blown.
When you allow a couple of Pastoral Studies majors to fumble through a passage for the first time your heart is full.
When you see a big group of totally diverse people eating turkey and mashed potatoes together in an old church basement with laughter and conversation, you know Jesus is there.
This was one of the first times I saw genuine faith. Now, I hope to chase after it and, by God’s grace, attain it. Join me.