There are times in life that you quickly realize that you are part of something so big – so God ordained – that it stops you in your tracks. It forces you to pause and look at life through an entire different set of lenses. You encounter a picture of God that blows your over simplified vision of who you think God is.
This past weekend . . .was one of those weekends.
Central Christian Church had a "Baptism Celebration" weekend. The vision: Give people an opportunity to get baptized. The Goal: 500 people. The results . . . the impact . . .the movement of God . . . difficult to put into words.
Here is my feeble attempt to share what I learned through this incredible movement of God. (These thoughts are extremely raw. Still trying to process what I experienced the past 2 days.)
- Set a big goal . . .and then expect God to blow it out of the water.
I remember the exact day where the goal of 500 baptisms was thrown out. Wow!! Big. It stretched us. It made us get strategic in all areas of the church. God had an entirely different plan. 500. Small. What did God do? He tripled it.
- Teach Clearly – Simply – with Conviction
Jud Wilhite (our Sr. Pastor) taught one of the best messages on the subject of baptism that I have ever heard. He laid out clearly what the Bible taught. He dispelled traditions that have plagued this action and even held the "church" accountable to their choices (or lack there of). If someone didn't get God's desire for their life . . .they were asleep!
- Take the excuses away
Jud, in his message, laid out a series of "excuses" why people might not want to get baptized that day. He then shared the remedy to their excuse. 1) You don't have clothes with you . . .we have shirts and shorts for you. 2) You don't want to get your car wet . ..we have plastic bags for you to place your wet stuff in. 3) You don't have time . . .we are letting church out early today. (and the list goes on). He then said . . ."If Jesus walked 60 miles to be baptized. If Jesus walked to a cross to die for you. You can walk 100 feet and get wet." Powerful statement. People had no excuse except to follow God's command.
- Let the Mess Ensue (aka – Flexibility)
It is important for me to state this first: The Reach team had this event extremely well organized. They hit the ball out of the park! So this thought doesn't fall under the category of "you don't have to plan and prepare adequately. With that said . . . it was organized chaos. The biggest services brought over 400 people at one time to be baptized. It was crazy at times, but there was a sense of calm that I discovere. People were taking a bold step of faith. They didn't mind. Don't control it. Don't over structure it. Smile and allow the experience to happen.
Don't let the bigness and craziness of the weekend stop you from experience the movement of God. I forced myself several times to just stop and watch and allow what was happening in the lives of so many settle deep into my heart. I saw a teenage girl baptize her grandma. I saw multiple dad's baptize their kids. I saw husbands and wives baptize each other. I saw entire families baptized at once. God's movement was mighty and profound.