Monday, June 22, 2009

Confession: my whole life I have been a church insider - first as a pastor’s kid and now as a pastor. I’m used to being on the inside, knowing the underside, seeing behind the scenes. And so, it is an incredibly strange, out-of-body experience for me to visit churches, which will be my lot for the next few months.

Yesterday, Clark and Jake and I went to the Summerville campus of Seacoast. From the moment we pulled onto their parking lot, there were people directing us to a parking spot, smiling and saying hello. When we walked in the door, we were directed to the first time registration table for Kidscoast where we registered Jake for the 0-12 month class before being escorted to the class and introduced to the childcare volunteers. It was a wonderful experience…and the whole time I was thinking about what the people on the inside were thinking as they looked at us: “There’s a young couple with a baby, I wonder if they’re new in town,” or “That family looks nice, I hope they have a good experience and want to join our church,” or “I wonder what they do for a living and if they would like to tithe here.” My insider voice can be very distracting.

Nevertheless, we had a great morning. The worship team was excellent and the preaching was powerful. Craig Groeschel, the pastor of, talked about the prodigal son and what it means to know God as Father. He talked about God as a patient Father, a forgiving Father and an intimate Father, and ultimately he extended the invitation for all of us to come home to our Father. Clark and I so rarely have the chance to worship together and it means so much to us. In fact, most of the times when we do worship together I have the thought at least once that I should quit my job so we can worship together weekly. The truth is that we do, but simply in a less traditional fashion.

So what did I learn this week…sometimes it’s good not to be an insider and simply worship, but, in fact, God invites all of us to be insiders, to claim the church as our home and pray for its strength at all times and in all places.

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