Lots of churches plan to have an outdoor service in the summer months. We didn’t. But we had one last Sunday anyway. 🙂
Before I talk about two days ago, let me begin by talking about 12 years ago. When I was going to seminary out in California, a few times I went to check out a church called Mosaic. This was the church led by Erwin McManus, but it was before Erwin got on the national radar.
They met right in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, renting a place called Club Soho. It was owned by Prince, who at the time was known as The Artist Formerly Known As Prince. 🙂 So it was a bar 6 nights a week and a church on Sundays.
I arrived at Mosaic and found out that for whatever reason, the club was unavailable that Sunday. So they had church in the parking lot on the roof of the building. So you worshipped God with the skyline of L.A. as the backdrop. It was beautiful.
Well, this past Sunday, our congregation didn’t have the skyline of L.A. to look at. Instead our backdrop was a brick wall of Shelby Jr. High School. 🙂 But I don’t think anybody cared.
Here’s what I love about our church….
On Saturday afternoon I received word that due to the storms from the previous night, Shelby Jr. High School didn’t have any power. And since it’s the summer time, restoring power to a school is low priority.
So I sent an e-mail out to our Core Team of key volunteers, asking everyone to pray. We have a 15-person prayer team, but I drafted every one of our volunteers to pray for God to move a mountain and for electricity to be restored.
In asking them to pray, I mentioned there was a good chance that power might still be out tomorrow. And if that is the case, we might be forced to cancel church primarily because of practical problems like lack of bathrooms.
I received a number of text messages, e-mails, and posts on Facebook from folks who said they would be praying but also encouraged me and our Advisory Board not to cancel church. After all, the early church in the book of Acts didn’t have electricity or a building, and they did just fine. They did more than fine, in fact. They changed the world.
On Sunday morning our volunteers rallied together and made it happen. We brainstormed. We made a ton of decisions on the fly. We experimented a bit. We prayed a ton. And everything came together. The parking lot of Shelby Jr. High became holy ground.
So this past Sunday we did everything we normally do at church. We worshipped. We dug into the Scriptures. We took communion. We prayed for people. And we had some fun with it, changing our church name for a day to The OUTSIDE Vineyard Church (thanks to Alan Lubnow for that recommendation!).
I don’t mean for this to sound like a cheesy Christian cliche but last Sunday reminded me that we don’t need electricity… we need the power and presence of God. Electricity is nice but not a necessity. But if you don’t have God, it doesn’t matter if you have lights and air conditioning.
***Please join us this Sunday INSIDE Shelby Jr. High School at The Eastside Vineyard Church. In addition to worship, teaching on Matthew 25, communion, and prayer, we’ll be inviting our first-ever short-term mission team on stage to commission them. It will be a special Holy moment. Sunday July 28. 10:30am. More info at tevchurch.org***