Friday, June 18, 2010

New Wineskins

The church constantly needs to wrap new wineskins around the Gospel in order to keep reaching our rapidly shifting culture with a relevant message. This means that we must constantly be open to change and risk, (the Bible calls that faith) and at the same time hold unswervingly to Biblical truth which never changes. In Jesus’ vernacular, while the wine will never alter, the wineskins must.

One of the many wineskins that we have been experimenting with for some time is the use of the internet as a ministry tool. Since Easter we have been streaming our weekend gatherings live over the internet. This past weekend, we had over 50 people streaming us live just from the two morning services.

What transpires when you stream our service experience is an audio and video feed as well as being placed in a chat room where one of our staff interacts with you and the others who are there. Think of it as your congregation joining you for the worship experience. Questions are asked in the chat room, responses are given throughout the message and worship experience.
There are many kinks that need to be worked out with our live streaming. (We are evaluating the experience this summer to discern whether to launch this in earnest and invest in it for the fall). At this rate, doing simple math from this weekend alone, the stream allows us to have an additional 2600 people ministered to per year. An encounter before the 11am gathering last weekend showed me the value of the stream and blew my mind.

I was headed to the sound booth when a tall man in his thirties stopped me and asked me if I remembered him. I didn’t and looked at him puzzled. (There are a million thoughts running through my mind 5 minutes before we start our services!) “I’m Evan,” he said. That didn’t help either. He broke the silence by stating that he was at Mt. Hermon in the fall when I spoke at their men’s conference. When he provided that point of reference, suddenly I remembered. He came to the conference from over 250 miles away and was a broken man, whose marriage was just barely hanging on due to some unfortunate decisions Evan had made. In the wake of their failing marriage were four small kids. Through a number of God-ordained experiences that weekend, Evan went home with new life and hope and a repentant, humble heart. God was faithful and His grace has done an amazing work in Evan’s heart since that time, using our PCC community as a tool of transformation.

Long story short, he and his family had driven over four hours to be at PCC in person, because since the week after Easter, as Evan put it, “PCC has been our church. We don’t miss a weekend service.” They are attending a local church in their community but they also have been streaming every weekend. He went on to tell me of the blessing this body has been to him and his wife. After the service, they went to the Mission Fair and then were headed to the Community Center to enjoy a day.

Whether it is the internet, our website, the look of our weekly gatherings, or our local serving endeavors, we will always endeavor to change, risk and put new wineskins on so that we can reach as many people as possible with the life changing teachings of Jesus Christ.This weekend is one of my favorite Sundays of the year…we call it Dadfest! It will be a fun and impactful Sunday, you won’t want to miss it. Want to come prepared? Read up in Luke 7:18-28.

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