A Postmodern Resurrection Story
By: Bill Easum
In one of the congregations I worked in last year, I ran across a story that had become legendary in that congregation. The central character is a 20 something named Jerry. Jerry played lead guitar in a band that played in a nightclub every Saturday night. As the story goes, Jerry played a mean guitar. At the end of each gig, Jerry collected his $200 and went home to his live-in companion of a few years. Jerry's significant other waited tables in local diner to help make ends meet.
One day, a friend of Jerry's called and pleaded with Jerry to play his guitar in their church band on Sunday because their guitar player was ill. They couldn't pay him anything other than their gratitude. Jerry owed his friend for years of friendship, so he agreed to play, just that once. After all, Jerry didn't believe in religion of any kind. Religion, he thought, was for weak minded people.
That morning, when Jerry played in the band, he actually enjoyed the company of those weak minded people. He was intrigued by the closeness of the group. The fact that they prayed before they played fascinated Jerry. Why would they do that? Jerry was also bothered because, after the prayer, the group gave each other a big hug and had tears in their eyes and smiles on their faces.
Jerry continued to play with the night club band for a couple of weeks. One afternoon, his friend called and asked if he would consider playing in their band regularly. The regular drummer had moved to another city, and they thought Jerry would be a good replacement. All they could pay him was $50 a week. But the group really like him and would be honored to play with him.
Jerry was surprised that they asked him to play with them in church since he was open about not being a Christian. He and his friend had talked about his feelings about religion several times. But Jerry needed the money, so he accepted.
A few months later, Jerry confided to his significant other that playing in the club band on Saturday night until 2:00 and then being a church at 7:30 was getting to be too much and that he had decided to quit playing at the church. He also confessed to his significant other that he hated to do this because he enjoyed playing at the church more than in the nightclub, but they needed the money.
Jerry took her up on the offer because he really enjoyed the people in the church band. But he felt he had to warn his friend. So, he informed the band that they needed to know that joining them did not mean he believed in organized religion or even in God. However, he acknowledged to them that he knew he was not the same person that he used to be.
The group gave Jerry all the time he needed because they knew that Jerry had begun the long, postmodern journey to Christ. They continued to have prayer and Bible study before every practice and always invited Jerry to join them. They secretly banded together to love and nurture Jerry and, above all, to role model Jesus before him.
At first, Jerry came to practice after the prayer and Bible study were over. Over time, Jerry began to show up early for the Bible study. Then, one day, he joined the group for the prayer time. He had grown curiously close to this group and could not get enough of what they had. He wanted to feel the way they felt.
Two years later, Jerry looked back on the journey and confessed to his significant other that somewhere along the way his life had radically changed. He described it as going from death to life, a truly resurrection experience. He knew now that Christ was now a vital part of his life and that nothing would be the same for him ever again.
So describes the resurrection story of many postmoderns.
Does your choir have prayer and Bible Study before practice? I don't mean an opening prayer, but 15 to 30 minutes of prayer followed by Bible study before ever looking at the music? I can just hear someone say "that's not why I sing in the choir. If I wanted to go to a Bible study I would go to one. I want to sing." I can just hear some choir director say "I'm a musician, not a theologian. I didn't sign on for that." Maybe that's part of our ongoing spiritual dilemma. We have too many musicians who wouldn't be caught dead in church next week if they weren't being paid to direct the choir. What we need are more musicians who love God more than their music and understand that the only good music is that which transforms lives.
Third, notice the gentle way the band members befriended Jerry and allowed him to progress on the journey at his own pace. They were not out to put another notch on their conversion belts. They were about loving him because God first loved them. They wouldn't consider themselves evangelists, just people who were head over heels in love with Jesus. They knew Jerry needed what someone had helped them find in the past.
Finally, somewhere, somehow, someone had instilled in the band members that the role of a Christian is to lovingly and relationally pass on to others the grace that has come into their lives. Their role as worship leaders was far more than just making good music. Their role was to make disciples, and they knew it.
What would happen in your church if every leader understood that his/her role was to make disciples using whatever gifts they have? Would that change things?
This brings us to the heart of the problem for three out of four churches. Like Jerry, they are in need of resurrection. Their leaders have become people of bricks and mortar instead of disciples of Jesus. Their hearts are turned to stone.
Too many churches are like Jerry…in need of a resurrection. My consulting experiences have taught me the vast majority of establish churches are spiritually dead and are in need of a resurrection. They are like the women who went to the tomb to care for Jesus. They are looking for the living among the dead (Luke 24:5). They try to revitalize themselves but to no avail. You can't revitalize something that is dead; it must be resurrected.
Bill Easum is president of 21st Century Strategies, Inc. a full service church consulting group since 1987 whose mission is to equip Christian for global impact, www.churchconsultations.com. He is a consultant, author, ex-pastor, futurist, husband, and father. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and keep up with him at his blog, www.billeasum.com.