We had hundreds of millions come to our Easter gathering...

Photo Credit: Pixabay  

I had a phone call the other day from someone asking how many people did we have for Easter service at our church... My response was hundreds of millions.

To be honest for our little corner of Christendom, we had a really good turnout. Anytime you get visitors or people coming back, who haven't been in awhile, you really feel it—there is a different level of energy and excitement.

Seriously though, I really don't care about how many people came to our Easter gathering, I just care about people knowing the love that Jesus has for them... No. I am not trying to spiritualize myself or make myself feel good knowing the fact that we didn't have thousands come to our church—I just really care about people. Both for those people that came to our church, and for those people who didn't show up.


The Gut Feeling... You know What I'm Talking About.

It wasn't always this way for me. I would get that little feeling in my gut if the church that I worked at didn't have a covetable number in attendance to share with people from other churches. It's hard not to be a part of the competition game. It's even more difficult to suppress that somewhat awkward feeling of saying,"Well we only had "fill in the blank" people show up."

Trust me, I know it's hard—I've lived on both sides of the "playing field." Most of us hope no one asks us these questions, "How many go to your church? Or, how many were at your Easter service(s)?" Unless our situation meets the bragable (Is this even a word) criteria of being share worthy.

Feeling embarrassed or ashamed that you didn't have masses coming to your Easter gathering is sinful and comes from the father of lies. These feelings degrade and belittle the people who call your church home and those who come to your worship gatherings—especially the visitors.

I also know the fallout if you don't have "x-amount of people" show up at your church. You have payroll to meet, bills to pay, ministry to accomplish, egos to fill, and dreams of reaching the masses with the gospel.

Again, trust me I know this all to well—I live and feel these things too. I have hopes and dreams for the church I pastor.


We all have dreams and hopes...

At some point we need to be faithful with what has been given to us and that which is before us. This doesn't mean we don't work hard, dream, scheme, and strategize ways to grow our church numerically or spiritually. Not to do so does not honor Jesus and His mission.

The sizes of our church don't define us—its our faithfulness in loving Jesus and to loving our neighbor to the best of our ability.

I'm guessing between a thousand to two thousand people went to Easter services last Sunday in the various churches that meet regularly in our city. And Hundreds of millions of people gathered together to worship Jesus and proclaim the gospel all over the world last Easter Sunday—we are all on the same team accomplishing the same mission, which was given to us by our Lord Jesus.

I know what I am writing isn't popular and many people who read this will tell me it's just me who feels this way or that it's okay to strive for numbers and a little competition doesn't hurt anybody... Maybe these people are right—maybe it is just me. Maybe I'm being trivial and wrong. I have been known to suffer from low self-esteem at times, and I'm also highly competitive and don't like to lose...

At some point the competition and comparison game needs to stop. We are all on the same team! Let's celebrate with each other what Jesus has accomplished—despite us.

I am so thankful for the church I get to pastor. The people who make up our church family are so welcoming, encouraging (They put up with me), loving, broken, hurt, authentic, and forgiven. I hope everyone gets to experience a church family like mine.

So I'm gonna tell people that we had hundreds of millions show up for Easter last Sunday.


Grace and Peace, Joe

What's the big deal about the movie Noah?




First a little disclaimer: I have not seen the movie, so this is not a review of the the movie itself, but more of an observation of how some Christians react when the things we think we own seem to be under attack.

I am sure the movie is great and I am sure the movie isn't biblically accurate. It's a Hollywood produced movie after all.

The reason for this blog post about the movie Noah...

I sat in a local business the other day and overheard a conversation between three people, all of whom were not Christians and one of them who didn't believe in God at all.

Two of the three people were buying goodies to eat before they went to the movie theater to see the movie Noah (Don't tell Pine Theaters that they brought in their own snacks.).

When they told the salesperson why they were getting snacks, the salesperson said they heard the movie was good, but heard that Christians were condemning the movie because it wasn't accurate to the Bible story—the two young adults who were buying the snacks acknowledge they had heard this as well. The sales person said that she didn't really know the story of Noah or the Bible for that matter and the two other people said so as well.

What one of them said next caused me to pause and think... She said, and I quote...

"It seems everywhere I look, Christians are bickering—bickering about society and culture, bickering about their rights, bickering with other religions, bickering about politics, bickering about homosexuality and gay marriage, bickering with people who don't give a shit about what they believe, bickering with each other, and now bickering about movies... When will they ever stop! If this is an example of who or what they believe in then I don't want to have any part of that—the world is already angry and they just add to the anger... I have yet to meet a Christian who is happy."


The two young people agreed with her and added that they thought Christians were suppose to love people and forgive, but the only Christians they knew liked to argue and bully people to believe what they believe in...


Can I bicker for a second...

I would've apologized on behalf of Christendom, but I'm sure I would have caused some bickering over the apology... I sat in my corner and kept my mouth shut. I'm not sure if I should have spoken up, but I was too embarrassed to say anything—Yeah, I am sure I have bickered in the past over things like this.

What I don't get is how we (Christians) react sometimes like we own the stories in the Bible. I don't get how we take to social media and berate and belittle people who aren't Christians (Or even with other Christians for that matter), who use stories or "things" that we claim as ours; especially when we think their depiction is inaccurate. It seems as if we somehow feel the need to protect and defend the integity of God and the Bible.

This whole incident made me think about what I want to be known for and what we as Christians should be know for.

We should not be known by how much of the Bible we know or how accurate we can tell a Bible story, but we should be known by our radical love for people because of Jesus.

Don't get me wrong, there is a time to stand up for truth, but we must check the motives of our heart. Are we defending biblical truth because we want to help move someone closer to Jesus or are we doing it so that we can prove we are right and the other person is wrong.

Somehow and in some way, we're forgeting about the command of Jesus to love God and love our neighbors. I think many of us have forgotten that we are ambassadors of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:11-21).

What is more important—to be right or to love?


Grace and Peace, Joe