Let’s Make Some Noise
“Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia, and rushed as one man into the theater. . . The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there.”
Drawing A Crowd
Jesus, Paul and the other Apostles knew how to draw a crowd. Of course, they had a great crowd-attracting technique at their disposal that is rare today — miracles! Mark tells us that “a great multitude, when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him” (3:8).
Similarly, Paul’s ministry is accompanied by great miracles that stir up quite a buzz wherever he goes. In Ephesus we’re told that “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them” (Acts 19:11-12).
As I surveyed the spiritually comatose landscape of Mound and pondered how I might stir up some excitement and draw a crowd to hear the gospel, I wish God would have anointed my snot rag or windbreaker with healing powers! But I was faced with a community of teens who were running away from the church and inoculated to the gospel through years of dry, lifeless ‘churchianity’. How was I to catch their attention long enough to repaint the Christian life in a new light?
Another significant obstacle I faced in trying to build a bridge from the church to the world of teenagers was…the church itself. To some, as I said earlier, Bethel Methodist was merely invisible, completely of their radar. Unfortunately, for others the church was all too real; to them the very thought of “church” sent them running full speed in the opposite direction.
Say what you want about the common stereotypes people have of Christians, but their perceptions are real, and we need to start with them, face them head on and seek to overcome them if we’re going to reach those who are repelled by the idea of church and any other kind of “organized religion.”
Well aware of these obstacles standing in my way, I didn’t despair for a moment. I knew very well that none of these teens were rejecting Jesus and his revolutionary message. They had never really had the chance to hear about it. This revolutionary man, message and mission had gotten buried beneath layers of unneeded religious baggage. Walls had been raised up keeping many from darkening the doors of a church.
Whether they were raised up by those inside or outside the church, it didn’t really matter. What mattered was this: Part of my mission had to be to find ways to break down the walls and clear a new pathway for teens to come and hear about Jesus — maybe for the first time.