In his book, Courageous Leadership, Bill Hybels says, “The local church is the hope of the world.” In the last week, I have experienced the truth of that message in two different settings. I experienced it in such a powerful way that it has caused me to reflect on how the local church is the hope for our children and their future.
First was on Good Friday. My family and I piled into the car Friday evening to head to a church 50 minutes away to see a musical Passion Play based on DaVinci’s famous portrait of Jesus’ final meal with His disciples.
We had no idea what to expect but from the moment the children, youth, and adults came running in with palm branches followed by Roman Guards and then Jesus on a horse, I knew that this was going to be something special. For the next two hours we watched as men held a frozen state just like Da Vinci’s painting, only breaking their pose to step out in character and remember the life of Jesus. It was spectacular.
However, what made it more spectacular was we were in a rural church in western Pennsylvania not a mega- church in the suburbs. For 12 years this church and community has poured their heart out into this production to offer it 4 nights of Holy Week to more than 1200 people. Who says there isn’t vital ministry in rural areas? Not only did children, youth and adult participate as characters but it engaged every person of every age in the audience that night. And as if the presentation was not enough, at the end was an explanation of God’s proposal to each of us for a purposeful and meaningful relationship. Thank you Pastor John and Grace UMC.
The second example of hope I lift up is the church I attend, Charter Oak Church. Easter Sunday was the kick off of a new series, ” You Don’t Have What It Takes” which is based on a circus strong man theme. Not only was this totally engaging for ALL ages but it rang true the real message of Easter, it is through Christ that we have forgiveness and new life not through anything we do. However, we all fall into the performance trap where we try to earn our way to heaven, even though we aren’t good enough and never will be. All of us fall short. When I realize that God accepts me through Jesus, I am no longer living for God’s approval but from God’s approval. Good people don’t go to heaven, forgiven people do. Thanks to Pastor Chris for a powerful message.
Both of these local church stories give me such a strong hope for our young people because both churches worked hard to be purposeful, practical and impactful for every generation and not just for one or two. They were a true every generation experience and message of the Gospel.