In the church world, there are two huge events each year where the largest crowds gather at church. You can probably guess them: Easter and Christmas. Years ago, before my family decided that attending church and trying to live life God’s way was infinitely better than what we were doing on our own, we were “Easter and Christmas only”people.
We plan for this at Fellowship of the Parks. We are a place that passionately tries to reach spiritually disconnected people all year, but we know the largest number of people who don’t have a church home will attend on Easter and Christmas.
This year was no different, Easter 2016 at Fellowship of the Parks was the largest weekend crowd in the history of our church – and we LOVED it. Easter weekend is always crazy-busy, which takes several weeks to get ready for. We put serious thought into what we teach and to what we sing so that we can help people encounter Jesus in a real way. It’s one of my absolute favorite weekends of the year. By Sunday afternoon and the end of our last service, we are whipped. The long prep is over quickly, the adrenalin of the weekend wears off and we’re tired. But it’s a good kind of tired. The kind of tired you get when you compete in a sport and you know you played your best AND you won the game. Words can’t really describe it. Everyone goes home feeling great.
And then there’s Monday. The alarm goes off Monday morning and it’s like I’ve totally forgotten all the good stuff that happened the day before. I’m tired, I don’t want to get up, I don’t want to go into the office, and honestly, I don’t really want to do anything. But because Sunday is only six days away and because God just might bring all of those new guests back for the next weekend (and because my son has to be at school by 7:35), I get up to start the week over again.
This year was no different for me in that sense; I took my son to school, got to the office around 7:45 just like every other Monday.
But then it happened.
The church phone rang about 5 minutes before 8:00am, and I’m typically the only pastor in the office at that time. It was answered on the first ring by our admin assistant team. Rarely do we get a call before 8:00am, so it was odd. I remember thinking, Oh no, this isn’t good.
Suddenly my desk phone rang. The call was coming from our front desk, so I knew that whoever called was being forwarded to me.
Here’s where I really value the authenticity of Fellowship of the Parks, because I’m going to honestly tell you that I didn’t want to take the call. It would have been easy to let it go to voicemail. Our office wasn’t even open yet, for crying out loud! But as the phone rang, I got this feeling. You know the feeling I’m talking about – the one that comes when you know you’re not doing the right thing. I like to call that the Holy Spirit kicking your butt. So, because the phone wouldn’t shut up, I begrudgingly picked it up. Jenny, our Campus Pastor’s administrative assistant and all-around great gal, is on the other end and says, “Doug, there’s a guy on the phone who wants to speak to a pastor. Can you talk to him?”
Immediately in my mind, I fire away, Nope. No way. I’m tired. Have him call back. Take a number. Haven’t had coffee yet. Tell him we’re closed. Does he not realize yesterday was Easter?
I was trying to rationalize my desire to avoid the call while trying to come up with a reason to tell Jenny that I couldn’t take it. And then that feeling started to come back, and because I couldn’t lie to Jenny as to why I couldn’t take the call. I took it…
On the other end of the phone was a guy speaking through tears. I hear a graveled, broken, quiet whisper say, “Pastor Doug, my life is a mess and I just need some help, man.” One of the main reasons I left the IT world to come on staff at FOTP was to help guys who lived like I did before I got serious about following Jesus. I know those guys are out there, and I want to help them. And the first 10 seconds of this phone call immediately reminded me of why I do what I do.
I asked the guy to come up to my office and within 10 minutes or so, he showed up. He had tears in his eyes as he shared things he was struggling with, how he was embarrassed because he’s not leading his wife and kids the way they deserve and he was simply tired of the chaos. I had never met him before, but there was something about him that was magnetic. Through his sadness, I could tell he had a charismatic personality. I could tell he was someone that people would love to spend time with. I guessed he had an incredible laugh, the kind of laugh that once you hear it, you can’t help but laugh with him even if you don’t know what you’re laughing about. He played sports in college and just carried himself like an athlete. We spent about 30 minutes talking, I challenged him in a few areas and he’s responded well. I told him that I feel like he can be used to do some amazing things for God’s kingdom one day. God has this guy’s attention for the first time in quite a while and I’m excited to see what happens.
However, this post isn’t about what God is doing in my new friend’s life. I’m sharing this because this was a great example of God’s Word coming alive in my life. The Bible says in Galatians 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
We can never get so caught up in what we’ve done that we stop doing what we need to do. I was so content with our Easter weekend that I almost didn’t answer the phone. If I wouldn’t have answered the phone, what would my new friend have done? Would he have turned his back on God altogether?
For many of us who’ve been Christ followers for a long time, it’s so easy to become comfortable. We know the right words to say. We know how to act. We know what we should do. But here’s the problem: are we actually doing them?
My challenge to you is the same as the Apostle Paul’s in his letter to the Galatians: never grow weary of doing the things you know you should do. As a Christ follower, never become too comfortable in your relationship with Jesus and never grow weary of pointing people to Him. You don’t have to be a public speaker or have a seminary degree. Sometimes, it’s as simple as inviting people to your church. As a husband or wife, are you giving the time necessary to strengthen your marriage? As a father or mother, are you investing in your kids and planting things in them that will produce the results you pray for? I want the people of Fellowship of the Parks to never grow weary in doing good!
Finally, there’s a part of Galatians 6:9 that says, “…for at the proper time we will reap a harvest….” This weekend, my friend who called Fellowship of the Parks the Monday after Easter is being baptized. And to think I almost missed the opportunity to celebrate with him because I wanted to be comfortable.
Thank you, Jesus, for making me answer that phone!