One of the highlights of my MS trip was going to Crossgate church service on Sunday. I did my 5th talk at their regular Sunday morning Students gathering & then most of the students at the event went to the church service.
It was a highlight for a bunch of reasons.
First of all I don’t usually get to just go to church. It’s rare that I get to listen to another guy preach live, especially in a service rather than a conference of some kind. These are two very different things btw.
It was also a highlight because it was real different from Journey in some ways.
It was of course a little more formal. They had a massive choir. There is a real emphasis on what a lot of people call “alter call” – that means coming to the front of the church to get prayed for or to accept Christ or to join the church etc. The building is very different, naturally, because it was built to be a church.
But the best thing was how the same it was. It was the same Holy Spirit, the same sense of being US not just me, the same passion for God & for the gospel getting to people who are far from Him. About half the worship songs were ones that we do at Journey and they were a little different but great. I found myself tearing up several times at just the beauty & wonder of the body of Jesus. I had this thought that I think was from the heart of Jesus: “I feel so sorry for people that are not a part of this thing called the Church.”
On Saturday, David Jett, the Sr Pastor, & I had coffee for an hour or so.
We had one of those almost instant connections. Which is cool because we are the exact same age, but our stories couldn’t be more different. I had never been inside a church building before becoming a Christ-follower at age 15. He was a pastor’s kid who did all the stuff (prayed the prayer, got baptized, went to all the stuff) but was LOST. Jesus found him at age 22. He was in church & all of the sudden God said, “if you leave here without meeting me you will be a lost man.” I love how he put this: “I met the love of my life that day.” I’m unapologetically stealing that line.”
At one point we were marveling together at the wild grace, and wonderful wisdom of God in putting us where we are. I’m in a place where less than 15% of the people go to church or synagogue or mosque or anything on a given weekend (according to the Billy Graham assn). He is in the Bible belt, the most religious place in the U.S. He said at one point: “I understand these people. I understand the lost Pharisee.” The message he brought at church was nails – it was about how our assumptions and ambitions keep us from really knowing God based on a great insight from the life of John the apostle. They pod cast if you want to take a listen.
I’m so thankful that God found a churchless kid & took pity on him. I’m thankful that the guy who led me to Jesus, Ollie Ballentine, didn’t stop with a prayer, but pursued me till I was in church. It really is too good to miss. Let’s make sure not many of the people in our lives do.
For you Journey types, this next series is made for just that.