Sunday, January 26, 2014

Day 26- Opening Up to a New First

I challenged people in the church to take home an envelope from the altar.  That was my “first” for today.

A word of explanation will help.  I’ve been preaching this month about being “all in and all out for the All in All.”  I was praying about how to make this last Sunday of the series a real meaningful experience for the church family.  I remembered something that I heard Kyle Idleman do one time on a podcast and felt like the Lord would be pleased if we did something similar here.

With the help of a few church members, I came up with 6 tasks that were kind of “all out” for Jesus kind of things.   The challenge was to find things that everybody could do but they would be a stretch for most.  I was looking for specific acts of obedience that would get most people out of their comfort zones.  I put them in envelopes; one task per envelope.  Then, at the conclusion of our worship time, I challenged our people to go all out for Jesus by taking an envelope with a task in it while committing to doing whatever was in it without knowing what it was. It’s like saying to the Lord, “I’ll do what You say even before I know what it is.”  The emphasis was on committing to do it before you know what it is.  If you were not going to commit to doing it, then you were asked not to take an envelope.  The thinking behind this for me is that it’s easy in our culture to pick and choose what you want to obey the Lord on and what you don’t.  God is about us obeying Him no matter what.  I’ve never done this specific challenge before. I did not do this to get a “first.”  After I had the idea and met with a few people to work it out, it did occur to me that this would be a “first.”

Envelopes on the altar awaiting a home

A bag of opportunities

Our congregation was asked to wait until after the service was over and then come to the altar and pick up an envelope as they left church. The envelopes were scattered over the altar area. I asked them to wait until after church so people would not go get one because someone else did. I wanted it to be a challenge between each individual and the Lord.

It seemed to have gone pretty well.  I don’t know who accepted the challenge by getting an envelope except the people who talked with me about it.  I was grateful for the number of people under the age of 23 that agreed to get an envelope; some as young as 12.  I look forward to hearing our people talk about their challenge.  Hopewell people are pretty open to talk about things like this; especially the ones that got an envelope. It did require some faith in the Lord to do that (plus a bit of trust in the pastor as well). Yes, I did pick up an envelope and will do my task as well.  Remember, the abundant life comes from letting God set the terms.

On mission with Jesus


3 things I thank God for

1. A church that is open to new and different challenges from the Lord

2. Hearing wonderful stories about what God did in and through our Haiti mission team last week.

3. Kyle Idleman’s good ideas


P.S. If you are a member of Hopewell and were not able to be here for this, simply email or call me and I’ll pick you an envelope.  I promise to pick one and not just give you what I think you needJ  If you are not part of the Hopewell family and want to do one, please let me know. I’ll pick you one as well. Remember, you have to agree to do whatever is in it before you can have one. It’s better to not make a vow than to make one and break it.  See you on mission with Jesus!

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