Coffeehouse Live at Ground Zero
The next outreach event would be similarly geared towards drawing the local musicians in the school. Many decided they wanted to take the stage after seeing the first Battle of the Bands. But I wondered if we could cast the invitation even wider than just musicians.
We decided to inaugurate a monthly “Coffeehouse Live” gathering that would provide a place to spotlight local student talent in all the performing arts. We invited poets, artists, dancers and musicians to all come and share their art with their peers. In between student performances we would have the “House Band” play — the house band being my new friends Bryan, Joe, Melissa and Rachel. This was a quieter, more acoustic venue where students could just chill out and play cards and board games around a candle lit table.
I realize this is nothing “new” per se. But for the town of Mound, there was nothing else like it. For the churches in Mound, it was wildly innovative. And it was all designed to give blooming teenage artists the spotlight, and that drew their friends to cheer them on. We hosted a “Christmas Cafe” in December and “Cupid’s Cafe” in February. Both carried forward the Revolution’s momentum and drew more and more students to the church for the first time.
My intentions with all of these music-driven events was to draw a crowd and connect with teens. I believed these events slowly tore down walls some students had up keeping them at arm’s length from the church.
I was building trust and deepening my relationships with many teens in Mound. I was no longer just Mr. Berg the sub teacher and Driving Instructor, and Coach Berg to these students. When I walked the halls at school, challenged them on the basketball court, and taught them in the classroom, and ran into them in the grocery store, I was now “Jeremy the Revolution guy” that had something to do with Jesus.
Now that I had built solid, trusting relationships with the teens, and had established myself as a youth pastor in town as well, I now had earned the right to offer the next big challenge and invitation to the teenagers of Mound. I was now stepping out of the Book of Acts story for a bit and stepping into the Gospels for this next strategic ministry move.
Jesus’ movement began and grew into what we see in the gospels through the combination of two tactics: (1) crowd-attracting “events” (miraculous healings, signs and wonders) and (2) calling out an inner core of disciples from the onlooking crowds. I was following this very same strategy as I attempted to start a revolutionary Jesus-movement in Mound.
First, we staged multiple events that might capture the attention of the teens and attract a crowd. We had successfully done this. People were curious, and the crowds were coming to our events, though for various reasons and with various motives.
Now, at last, it was time to call forth an inner core of curious teens who wanted to move from being a mere spectator of the Revolution and become a participant in the real mission behind it. This is my favorite part of the story so far.
With a room full of teenagers gathered to hear their friends play guitar or embarrass themselves with an attempt at beat-boxing, I once again took the stage and grabbed the microphone. Just like Jesus had done some two-thousand years prior, it was time to call some disciples to drop their nets and follow. Here was my rally call:
“Some of you have come to all of these Revolution events and you still don’t know what the Revolution is really all about. The Revolution isn’t just about hanging with your friends, playing cards and listening to music. The Revolution isn’t just about playing guitar and writing songs. These are good things, but they aren’t what the Revolution is about. The Revolution goes much, much deeper than that. The Revolution began two-thousand years ago, and it continues still today. It’s a revolution of radical love, grace and service to others, and it has the power to transform every single heart and change the world. It’s a revolution of following the revolutionary Way of Jesus Christ. Many of you are just spectators of the Revolution, just showing up because that’s where the party’s at and where all your friends are. But some of you tonight are ready to take the next step. Some of you are ready to become PARTICIPANTS in the Revolution. Some of you are ready to become Revolutionary followers of Jesus. If that’s you, then I want to invite you to sign up and come to “The Way of the Revolutionary Bible Study” that will begin meeting next month at my house down the road. The purpose of our gatherings will be simple: We will learn more about the Man, Message and Mission of Jesus. So, sign up if you want to become a Revolutionary follower of Jesus!”
I don’t think anyone signed up. But that’s teenagers for you. Several probably meant to but got distracted by a piece of pizza, a cute girl or it was their turn in whatever board game they were playing when I made the invitation. But I think many heard the call. I guess we’d find out the next month at the first meeting.
Before we get to that The Way of the Revolutionary Bible Study gatherings (Chapter 8), we need to spend a chapter talking about some of the other revolutionary ministry that was happening around town, and the ministry approach that led to it. It’s time we get back to our friend Paul as he brings the message of Jesus to the pagan metropolis of ancient Athens.