Have you ever found something so amazing, so incredible and so awe-inspiring that you are desperate to tell all your friends about it? Have you ever seen an idyllic, paradise beach on television and thought I must visit there? Or perhaps you once heard a band so incredible that you were willing to pay big bucks to see them live in concert?
Early in my career, Disneyworld at Orlando Florida employed me. Like most people I found Disney to be an amazing place. The imagination, excellence and attention to detail made a great impact on me. The staff followed the dream of Walt Disney to 'create the happiest place on earth.'
When my contract finished and I returned to my local church in the Midwest of America, my eyes had been opened as to how average our approach was in certain areas. Even though my church was a good church, with some incredible people, there were many things that I 'put up with' that Disney would refuse to allow. I realized that I had been conditioned to accept things as they were. This realisation led me to ask the question.
Why do I settle for average in church life when God has amazing in store for us?
It was and still is my conviction that the local church has been entrusted with the vital responsibility to reflect the amazing nature of God. Yet when I looked around my local setting and saw:
- Buildings in poor condition. Walls scuffed in need of paint, stained carpets, broken lights.
- Little creativity or innovation in programming resulting in predictable and sometimes boring meetings.
- Music of a very poor quality and substandard musicianship
- Not many people came, or even knew we existed in comparison to the amount of people that lived around our area
- Not many young people were interested in our local church programmes
I realized that even though I wasn't a "leader" at the time, it was my responsibility to be part of the solution. I had just left Disney employment where most of the work force were young people like me, yet they were part of an amazing organisation. I feared that my neglect of initiative taking and acceptance of average could lead people to wrong conclusions about God. Though I felt inexperienced and inadequate, I began a quest to make God's house more amazing than the house of a rodent! This quest, led me to England and to pioneer a young peoples ministry in West Yorkshire. In launching Rocknations, I began to ask myself questions like "What will it take to make local church amazing? What will take to make youth ministry amazing?"
What Amazing Means
Amazing is an awesome word. Amazing literally means - extraordinary, wonderful, barely believable or to cause extreme surprise. It is my conviction that amazing is a word that should reflect everything associated with Jesus Christ. After all Jesus is God made flesh. Jesus is the innovative rescuer of humankind, who rose from the dead. Pretty amazing wouldn't you say so? Why is it that so many people, especially young people still find the local church (His reflection on the earth) boring dull and predictable? Wouldn't it be awesome if our youth meetings were summed up by extreme surprise?
God's Amazing Idea - The Local Church
The church was initiated by Jesus to be an amazing place on earth. Jesus declared (Mt 16:18) '...on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it.' Jesus went on to say after His resurrection (Acts 1:8) 'But will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and to the ends of the earth.' It didn't take long before strong local churches emerged in places like Corinth, Ephesus, Galatia and in many other places.
The incredible thing is that the leaders of the early church who were the custodians of this amazing plan were average ordinary people like you and me. Acts 4:13 states that when people saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
Investing Quality Time Will Lead To Amazing Results
Peter and Johns incredible exploits were not an accident, but rather the result of Jesus having invested quality time in them. That investment, later led to God doing incredible things through them. Spending quality time with Jesus and then investing your life in others is an absolute necessity in producing amazing results. In my early days as a youth pastor, older wiser people invested hours into my life. They challenged, provoked, questioned, and encouraged me all for which I am totally grateful. In turn, I would pour quality times into the teenagers around me.