Standing in Jeopardy

Still looking for ways to capitalize on a smaller summer audience. So Sunday night we tried to change up the second service a little bit. Since the people that stay on board in the summer tend to be the more faithful, we have higher repeat-attendance percentage – they like to stay for the other services. There’s several people that were at all three services this weekend. I think there were only six people at the second service on Sunday that hadn’t already heard the message I was going to preach.

 

So we did something that I’ve wanted to try for a long time but have been pretty scared to do so. An off-the-cuff question and answer session. Scary anywhere you do it, I imagine – but in a room full of college students who attend regular Marxism classes it’s especially intimidating. But this seemed like the perfect environment to experiment a little – mostly believers and a summer-sized crowd.

 

Good start – fielded some questions about whether or not Christians should make plans, the connection of faith and obedience – mainly practical, devotional content. Last question I took was from a newcomer (to be fair, I had been warned about him the night before by the friend that brought him – he’s interested, but a little opinionated – his friend was hoping that I could talk to him, and he was the main reason I hesitated to have this Q&A session during the service). He asked what I believed the significance of the cross to be.

 

I explained for a while about the cross – from prophetic, physical, and spiritual standpoints. Asked him if that’s what he meant – and he said I hadn’t answered his question yet. He reiterated something about what it meant to me personally. Wanted to check what he meant, so I asked another person to explain it to me as well. Fortunately, no one else knew what he was talking about, either. So I told him what the cross meant to me personally and told him that I’d be happy to talk to him about it in private later if I still hadn’t answered his question.

 

Anyway, his weirdness made the whole environment a little uncomfortable, but anytime you open the floor for the audience to talk, you have that possibility. Talked to the guy later – possibly the dude with the strangest ideas I’ve met yet. Every time he says “the cross,” he hold his thumb and forefinger apart like I asked him how big a Lilliputian is. Which means he’s thinking of the cross merely as a symbol, something you wear around your neck. Anyway, he was quite sure that none of us really grasp the significance of the cross, though it somehow involves God admitting he’s flawed, too, and telling us that we’re all like that, and that’s okay.

 

Not unreasonable, though. Got him to admit that though what he was saying was very interesting, it was pretty much his own faith that was supported by no source outside of his own skull. He was anxious to get a Bible, promised to read it. He also admitted that what he thought was not supported in any way by the Bible, so that, after reading the Bible, he would have to choose between it’s truth and his own.

 

Not to be outdone by my admonition, he encouraged me to carefully think about the significance of the cross. That about drove me crazy – closest I came to losing my cool (though it’s hard to do so when you’re thinking about something as humbling as the cross). I told him that it’s not really fair for him to judge our church, as people who claim the cross has changed their lives, by his own standard, as someone that still says he doesn’t know what the cross means, saying that we ought to “think hard” about what it means! That’s just a little insane.

 

In the end, I think the session went fairly well and will be of benefit to the church. I learned a lot about controlling the format of a session like that, hopefully to minimize awkwardness and maximize the impact of the Word.

One Comment on “Standing in Jeopardy”

  1. larien August 13, 2008 at 9:04 am #

    I’ve been following your bog for months and wanted you to know that your faithfulness to write about your real experiences in china have been an extraordinary encouragement to me. Run the race, brother. We’re almost home.

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