This past weekend was the Grand Opening of HCC's new campus. It's so amazing that we now have a place to call "home"! Friday was the Ribbon Cutting ceremony where all the Fancy Pants of Franklin came out and presented us with various things and said important things - some of which I didn't even understand...haha.
But it was a special moment and exciting to stand behind Bobby as he cut the ribbon in front of our Community Center.
On Saturday, we had a big Family Fest complete with tons of food, ice cream, snow cones, infatables, games, a dunking booth, face painting, adorable little kids everywhere...
...and of COURSE, a special appearance by Bob and Larry from Veggie Tales. One of the highlights of the day was watching John Mark's sheer joy and excitement at dunking his dad...
haha...I love JP's face in that picture. There were a TON of people who came out on Saturday - lots of new faces - and everyone had a fantastic time.
Saturday night was the Grand Opening of our Youth Center. We brought in 3 (awesome) artists and had Shane's Rib Shack cater...delicious. I'm a horrible estimate on numbers of people but I would think there were probably about 150 students there - probably the majority of them visitors - so that was exciting.
Plus the kids were really getting into the music, which always makes a CONCERT more fun! :)
I love Harpeth Community Church. I love that I have people that I can truly call family there. I love that there are families and parents that have taken me in as their own. I love how the youth group has become just a big group of little brothers and sisters to me. I love what HCC stands for. I love that I can fully trust the leadership. I love the way I have been challenged and have grown there. I love that they were willing to take a chance on someone they barely knew to be their youth ministry assistant. I've said many times that if it weren't for Harpeth, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be in Tennessee anymore. This church - this family - means the world to me. I'm excited to see what God has done, and I'm even more excited to see what He's going to do there. He's moving...you can feel it.
One of the things I love the most is that HCC rejects consumer Christianity and corporate church. They want to build up missional Christians - people who want to be fully part of God's mission as opposed to just wanting to have a cool church experience. People who ask "What does Jesus want me to do for the church?" as opposed to "What can the church do for me?" People that see other's needs over their preferences. People that are more concerned about serving than being served.
It's sad that so many today view the Church as a product or a service - a place that provides good religious feelings, self-help programs, kids' activities and sports leagues. Sounds like a country club to me. I love that Harpeth puts a major emphasis on being missional and less of an emphasis on being attractional.
This is something we can struggle with a lot in the youth ministry. Because youth are often drawn to the cool and exciting - the place with the best "show". But who ever said that following Jesus was cool? What a sad thing for a church to be concerned about. But it's hard to not fall prey to that temptation - to not be worried about how many people we have coming through the door, to want to be the "cool" place where everyone wants to be. As Shane Claiborne says in Irresistible Revolution, "That's the very temptation Jesus faced in the desert, the temptation to do spectacular things like fling himself from the temple or turn stones into bread, to shock the masses with his miracles or awe them with his power. And yet he resists. The church has always faced the same temptation."
The temptation is to woo people with an awesome show and then try to please them and comfort them with a watered-down version of the Gospel. So then you may have a church of 2,000 - but it's 2,000 lukewarm Christians who aren't really being challenged or growing in their faith. What a travesty that would be.
My prayer is that our goal would be NOT to see how many people we can get in the door - but that we would preach the TRUTH, that we would offer real relationships and encourage people to live missionally. And sadly, that may not attract a lot of people. But it's the Jesus Way. And I'm thankful to be a part of a church family that seeks the Jesus Way above any other.