No sermon from me today, but I thought you might like to know what we did on our day away. Joleen and I are, of course, in Wilmore, Kentucky this week for a class at Asbury on "Transformation of the Church," taught by Drs. Jim and Molly Scott (more on that later).
Whenever we’re away from our own churches (on vacation or at school) we like to visit cutting edge churches for inspiration and as part of our ongoing education and formation.
We had trouble settling on a church; there were several good choices. But as we neared the end of our 10.5 hour trip, we considered the possibility of driving 73 miles (about 1.5 hours) to Louisville to visit Southeast Christian Church where Bob Russell is the senior minister. Southeast is the seventh largest church in America. It’s also the largest church we’ve ever attended; it’s currently running about 18,000 in three weekend services (one on Saturday evening and two on Sunday morning).
We’ve been to other large churches — North Point in Atlanta, Cincy Vineyard in Cincinatti, Ohio and Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church in Tipp City, Ohio, but those were smaller, 6,000, 6,000, and 3,500, respectively, as I recall.
Southeast has an awesome campus — a huge entrance and an unbelievably large atrium, with steps, escalators, and elevators leading to multiple levels, it appeared. We parked in the back of the lot (as we always do; although in Alexandria, Barree, and Petersburg, that usually takes no more than 30 seconds to get to the entrance, while at Southeast, it took 5+ minutes, and that in extreme heat!).
Even though the sanctuary seats several thousand people (18,000 in three services, with plenty of available seats in the 11:15 am service we attended), I was surprised by the intimacy of the room — there wasn’t a bad seat in the room. The sanctuary is in-the-round and has two balconies (though the top one wasn’t being used).
Dave Stone (one of two preaching associates in addition to the senior minister) preached today and did a great job. They’re doing a series called, "You asked for it", based on questions congregational members asked. Today’s message was on "Questions I have about family." Again, I thought it was very well done.
For the preachers who read this sermon blog, you might be interested in
the following observations …
- The message was conversational
- Dave stood the entire time behind a clear, pexiglass pulpit, and appeared to preach from a manuscript.
- Dave used humor very well (which means it was just enough, but not too much).
Well, back to our class that begins tomorrow. I’ve had a sense for several weeks that this is going to be a great experience. It’s not going to be simply an ivory tower, academic exercise; rather it looks to be a course that is designed to be experiential and transformational. In reality, how do you talk about spiritual transformation without experiencing it?
Because it will be transformational, it will also be extremely intense, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. It will be both draining and energizing/empowering as we are stretched by the Scotts, by other students/pastors, and mostly as we encounter and are stretched by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!
I am very excited, and I want to get out of it all that I possibly can, so I would appreciate your prayers this week. I don’t want to return to be the same person I was when I left. I want to be a transformed person, a transformed Christ-follower and pastor.
We submitted our pre-class work to the Scotts last Monday, and on Friday, the professors informed us (the class) in an e-mail that a number of their friends are praying for us, "prayer warriors," who "are praying for miracles for each of (us)." In their e-mail they expressed great expectations for this class as well, affirming the work that we had submitted earlier in the week, and saying that they sensed that this class is "different." They are "thinking that (this class is) more spiritual, deeper in the faith, and more spiritually hungry than (they) have seen through the years."
Because of that, i believe it will be an even more meaningful and impacting experience for all involved. As you can imagine, Friday’s e-mail from the Scotts caused my anticipation of what God is going to do (which was already higher than usual) to go off-the-charts!
So, please pray, and all check back here throughout the week. Time permitting, I hope to write something here each evening about something that God really presses upon me on that particular day. So, you may want to check back here during the week.
So we would appreciate your prayers that this will be a great week for us, our classmates, and our professors. Pray that it may be a week that will impact not only each of us, but also the people we serve, and the communities we all seek to reach for God’s revolution!