My final message on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John. Hear the rest of them here.
I got a chance to preach about letting the Holy Spirit invade our lives and church services at Revive Worship Conference this past week. Thanks to Spring Arbor Free Methodist Church for having the video available.
I have never known a group of Christians like those at 1208 Greenwood. Every one of them is truly spectacular. They are accepting and loving towards neighbors. They are passionate and eager to make an impact. They are courageous and intentional in their living. They are patient and smart when facing difficulty. They are diverse in race, age, and social life.
They embrace both structure and flexibility. They aren’t thrown off by the genre of worship or the various physical expressions of praise taking place in the room. They have no need to point out the spec in each other’s eyes because they are aware of the 2×4 in their own.
They dream of community gardens, meals for the poor, and small groups that leave an impact on the city. They desire to get involved to the point that they need to step back and make sure the other good and important things in their life fit as well.
They complain about next to nothing. Is the music too loud? Yes, but it’s not going to ruin their worship and they aren’t going to yell at the sound man. Are the children racing through the sanctuary left and right and not obeying anything they ask? Yes, but they are more concerned about loving them than teaching them a lesson.
They are more than a community. They are more than friends—they are a family. And like a loving family, they are there for each other even when they’ve let each other down. They climb back down into the pit of each other’s life even when it’s the hundredth time they’ve done so. They demonstrate the unconditional. When they err, they err on the side of grace.
They are all around the most unique church I have ever encountered and they show me who Christ is more and more, every week. I am a better person just being around them. They are what I aspire to be and an image of what I believe we as a church are to look like: the repaired and the broken; the weak and the strong; the poor and the rich; the starving and the hungry; the addicted and the free—and everything in between.
We are a group of believers that meet in an old radio factory on the corner of Greenwood and McNeal on the outskirts of downtown Jackson, Michigan. Our name is our address: we call ourselves 1208 Greenwood.
We designed a service at 1208GREENWOOD that has very little planning involved. It starts at 9 at night and ends 2 hours later. The band shows up last minute, plugs in their instruments and plays through whatever 10 songs or so were chosen beforehand without any practice. For some churches this is every worship leader’s nightmare, but for us it’s a thing of spontaneity, freedom and beauty.
This past Wednesday I had to sit in on drums, which meant I had to find someone willing to lead the music. I called up my good friend Dan Prout, who leads worship at another church down the road. He agreed and took us into the holy of holies.
About half an hour into the set, holy laughter hit a few of the worshippers. Every time we ended a song, you could hear people cracking up loudly over our guitarist’s foot-pedal-ambience.
Now I’m not one who screams or cheers loudly at any event. I usually clap my hands while giving a quiet, high-pitched “woooooo.” But one point during this session of late night worship, I could not help but feel this desire bubble up inside of me to yell, “YEAAAAAHHHH!!!”
While I do have some Pentecostal blood in me, I am not typically one who makes a lot of noise like that. In fact, I’m sometimes confused as to why other people in the room do such things. I’m not put-off by it or anything, I just never really understood it.
There it was—this noise deep within me—and I just wanted to let it out, right then and there in that quiet moment we were having. I ended up waiting until I was smashing some cymbals to finally let it out, but it felt good. On top of this, this screaming desire came on a night where I wasn’t even feeling particularly focused in worship, perhaps making it all the more genuine.
This service presented many people with a great experience of God’s joy—something that I sometimes lose behind the seriousness of slow, meditative music (not that such music is bad or anything). I now have a better understanding of how the Holy Spirit manifests joy in our lives at times.
When Pastor Maltbie D. Babcock would go running he would tell the secretary, “I’m going to see my Father’s world.” Sometimes we don’t take a lot of time to observe the world around us and give praise to God for the beautiful creation He has made. Now sure, most of us here in Michigan are pretty sick of snow, but take some time to admire it and in doing so, admire God.
I spent many, many hours this past week making a documentary on the Biblical importance of serving. I know you come to blogs to find short little tidbits of info, but I hope you might be inspired to give it a quick look :)