On Sunday we started a short two week series called, “Contagious.” It’s all about being contagious and sharing our faith. It’s kind of ironic because it seems like a large number of our people are sick right now. But Sunday was very powerful. I closed out my sermon by asking people to come and take Communion and then to write the name of a friend who needs Jesus on the walls of our auditorium – that’s right the actual white walls of our auditorium with black sharpie pens. It’s actually an idea that I got from Newspring Church. It was something they did several years ago. I’ve been waiting on just the right time to do it. With everything going on at our church right now, this seemed like the right time.
At some churches, they put the names of people who give a lot of money on plaques and display their names on pews or walls or name rooms or halls in their honor. On Sunday, I said we would never do that. All honor and glory will go to God. The only name we will lift up is Jesus. However, we are on the same mission that Jesus had – to seek and save the lost. And the names we wrote on the wall remind us of our mission. It is also a reminder that our building is nothing more than a tool to accomplish that mission. It is also a call to prayer.
I’m not sure how long we will leave the names up, but for now and for a time, they will remain. In fact, we will encourage our people to continue to add names to the wall. It was a very powerful moment in the life of our church.
This morning to close our our Men’s LIFE Group I told the guys that we were going to go in the auditorium and I simply wanted them to walk by the walls and silently read the names. We then got down on our knees and prayed for the names on the wall. It was one of the most moving moments we’ve experienced together. We’re encouraging our Prayer Team and anyone from our church who feels led to do so, to do the same thing – pray for the lost.
At Coastal, we don’t just go to church, we are the church. And we are on a mission – to share and experience the LIFE of Jesus with the world around us. How do I know that? The writing is on the wall.
I know, I know – I’ve done a terrible job lately of posting on my blog. I’m going to try to do better. There is a little story I’ve been wanting to share, but just haven’t – until now.
For some of the different sermon series that we do, we’ll give away gifts at the end of the service. It just started as something fun to do. Usually the gift goes along with series in some way. For our “Accelerate” series we gave away Nascar related gifts. During our “Beautiful” series we gave away stuff geared toward women. You get the idea. It also serves as an enticement to fill out our Connect Card. We’ll draw a name from the cards to determine who gets the gift. It’s funny – everyone fills out a Connect Card when we’re giving something away.
Well, at this years Christmas Eve service we decided to give away a few things. The “big gift” was a turkey & a ham. We made a joke how during the “UFC” series that we did that the guys got jacked up when we gave away meat (ribs & steaks). And since it was Christmas Eve we were going to give away a huge turkey & a spiral sliced Honey Baked Ham. Everyone laughed and went crazy.
I drew a Connect Card and the winner was a 1st Time Guest visiting from out of town. She was an older woman who came to see her son’s family here in Charleston who just recently started going to our church. She got a big kick out of winning.
The next week I got a Thank You note from the winner. She told me how much she enjoyed our service – the music, the message, and how friendly everyone was to her. She thanked me for the ham & turkey and told me how wonderful they both were and how she fed her friends and family with them.
She also told me that she wanted to give our church a gift to express her thanks – a piece of art. She gave me her phone number and asked me to call her with instructions about shipping the gift. I called her and told her that the gift was not necessary, but she insisted. Then she said something that caught me off guard. She told me to make sure to let her know when it arrived so she could take it off of her insurance.
What? Take it off her insurance? Let me cut to the chase. She sent our church a bas relief bronze sculpture entitled, “Christ of St. John of the Cross” by Salvador Dali – worth about $8000. Not a bad return for a turkey & a ham!