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Pastor's Commentary II

Posted by Tim :: Tim's thoughts

Without question, last week's testimony by Mike Boyd was powerful. If you didn't get a chance to hear it, download it now and give it a listen.
There is nothing like changed lives to boost your faith and give you hope. Wow, if God can change him, then he can change me! Strangely though, the visible response at Stonebrook was not that way.
After a clear offer to receive pastoral prayer for healing and power to the entire church body, only 6 people had the guts to come forward (4 during the first service; 2 during the second). Now, since I knew that there were several more that could really benefit from being humble and seeking help (and only God knows how many I didn't know of), it was a little discouraging and concerning to see people stay in their seats.
This was far more the case in the second service than the first, because the second service had 60 more people yet only 2 sought out prayer.
It's been a long running discussion among the pastors and others as why the second service is so far less responsive than the first. Compared to the older, earlier service, the singing seems far less enthusiastic, jokes get hardly a snicker, and it's like pulling teeth to get any audience participation.
We have looked into our own effectiveness at teaching, the generational gap, the insecurities of youth (since the second service is primarily Rockers and young marrieds) and have gained some insight but no sure answers.
Maybe you have some thoughts as to why the second service is so languid? I'd hate to see such a potentially powerful series miss the mark if it can in any way be avoided.


Comments

I must disagree on one point: from the front, at least, the singing at the 2nd service is much more enthusiastic and the crowd is much more responsive.

Posted by: Pat at September 24, 2004 02:37 PM

It's not like I know what I'm talking about or anything, but basically I think you should just keep preaching it brother.

Posted by: Dan Benson at September 24, 2004 09:55 PM

Well Pat, you'll have to take your perception up with Gary and Matt. They were in on the latest discussion about the disparity between services.
I appreciate you weighing in though.

Posted by: Tim at September 24, 2004 10:53 PM

While powerful, I don't know how many people can directly relate to the way he came to know Christ. I was touched and encouraged by his message, and indeed God has worked mightily in his life. That cannot be debated. But how many people would be moved to answer a call to prayer? The number of people who came up may be roughly accurate. I can't think of any Christian I know who still struggles with alcohol, as they did before knowing Jesus. Few are out there - few responded to a call to share burdens.

An the other hand, a whole ton of people may have been deeply affected! But not everyone hears a message and is convicted, then decides within a matter of minutes to share with a pastor. When serious, emotional issues come up in my life, I usually wrestle with them a bit before I can share deeply with someone - and the people I go to are a select few guys who have proven their genuine love and availibility.

Definately not all-conclusive responses....what d'ya think?

Posted by: Dan at September 25, 2004 03:38 PM

Well, this might be one of those situations where you concede that the pastors have a little bit more insight into the condition of the flock then you do. The church is a hospital and there is a lot of walking wounded out there.
Beyond that, I agree that the level of comfort in sharing a burden (any burden, not just alcohol) with a pastor is low. I can definitely see how that would inhibit things. Thanks for sharing, Dan.

Posted by: Tim at September 25, 2004 09:49 PM

You know, I paid really hard attention this morning, and the second service was indeed more energetic than the first during music. Especially after a little encouragement to the students to engage. Pat's comment that he has noticed consistently that this is the case has me wondering if I am just remembering an "implanted memory" of lack of response, due to Gary sharing that it is the case for his band, and asking if it was the case for mine...

Interesting.

I agree with Dan too that people are going to share struggles and seek prayer from those they have relationship with, rather than Joe Pastor who does an "alter call".

I wonder what would happen if we would have had a different environment (seating arrangment, lighting, music), and MORE TIME to give people respond. It would be surprising to see people leap out of their seats in response to this kind of call, and less surprising to see a slow trickle of people as their wills are gradually overcome by the prodding of the Spirit.

Posted by: Matt at September 26, 2004 10:56 PM

So far, the answer to my question, "...why the second service is so languid?" has been, the second service isn't like that at all. Very interesting.
That helps me understand things from your perspective. I and the other pastors regularly (like every Sunday) participate in both services and have noticed a disparity. You guys point out instances were its not a lack of spiritual fervor during the second service, and mentioned reasons for a cautious congregational response in general. I appreciate your input on that.
I suppose I could lower the bar on my expectations, but I probably won’t. God will have to give me grace to swing for the fence every time regardless of the outcome.
To Him be the glory!

Posted by: Tim at September 27, 2004 02:58 PM

Well, our (my) perspective is also directed specifically towards the music angle of things. It may not apply to engagement with the message. I don't know what that's like because I'm generally sleeping ;-).

Posted by: Pat at September 28, 2004 10:52 AM

Pat, you are a dog. Sleeping in church!
Oh, well. I suppose that's more forgivable than blogging at work.

Posted by: Tim at September 28, 2004 11:14 AM