Party Central

According to the latest research I’ve come across, approximately 100,000 people around the world put their faith in Christ every day! And there are only 86,400 seconds in a day. Do the math, and you discover that there is a cosmic celebration of infinite proportions initiated every second of every minute of every hour of every day. If heaven is a nonstop celebration, the Church ought to be a mirror reflection of that reality!
partycentral
Have you ever taken a word association test? A tester prompts a responder with a stimulus word, and the responder is instructed to verbalize the first word that comes to mind. Psychologists use the test to reveal associative connections.

Imagine a word association test. The stimulus word is church. And the responders are all unchurched. What words do you think the responders would associate with church?

I’m guessing boring, bigoted, outdated, hypocritical and irrelevant would top the list.

Now imagine someone giving Jesus the same word association test. The person says, “Tell me the first thing that comes to mind when I say the following word: Church.”

I think Jesus would have said, “Party!”

That is the associative connection Jesus makes in Luke 14:16 when He is describing the kingdom of God. He likens the kingdom of God to a party. Jesus says, “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations” (NLT).

Lame Parties

I have a secret fantasy. I’ve always wanted to kick off one of our services with our band playing “Get This Party Started.” Minus the explicit lyrics, of course!

I think church ought to be party central.

John Smith was on to something when he said the church ought to be more like an Irish pub. He said, “The Irish know how to celebrate—with minimum resources and minimum reasons. The Church should feel something like an Irish pub—festive, music, participatory—with everyone welcome.”

Permission to speak frankly? Too many church services are like really lame parties. You know the kind of party I’m talking about because you’ve either been to one or thrown one. The only hors d’oeuvres are cold weenies wrapped in hard crescent rolls, and they aren’t playing any ’80s music! You went to the party to meet that special someone, but that special someone doesn’t go to lame parties! The entire time you’re calculating the earliest possible departure time without totally offending the host.

Too many people feel that way about church.

Heaven Gone Wild

Luke 15:10 gives us a glimpse of the holy party that is happening in heaven. “There is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents” (NLT).

One person putting his faith in Christ sets off a cosmic celebration.

According to the latest research I’ve come across, approximately 100,000 people around the world put their faith in Christ every day! And there are only 86,400 seconds in a day. Do the math, and you discover that there is a cosmic celebration of infinite proportions initiated every second of every minute of every hour of every day. If heaven is a nonstop celebration, the Church ought to be a mirror reflection of that reality!

I’m convinced that our gravest sin is under-celebrating the goodness and greatness of God. Our biggest problem isn’t the fact that we don’t feel bad enough about what’s wrong with us; it’s that we don’t feel good enough about what’s right with God. We let what’s wrong with us keep us from worshipping what’s right with God. We don’t celebrate half as much or half as well as they are celebrating in heaven. But that’s the party standard.

Our church parties ought to approximate heaven’s parties. In the words of Rob Bell, “The church has nothing to say to the world until it throws better parties.”

The Party to End All Parties

Here’s an amazing thought: There won’t be sex in heaven. That seems to be the indication in Scripture, since there won’t be marriage. (Just to set the record straight, there won’t be sex in hell, either.)

That may sound depressing at first earshot. Some of you are thinking, “I was looking forward to heaven until now!” But here is what is so amazing. Heaven is going to be such a supernatural celebration that our greatest earthly pleasures will pale in comparison to the things we experience in heaven. Sex doesn’t even make the cut!

We will experience emotional highs, intellectual thoughts, physical pleasures and spiritual realities that can’t be rivaled by anything we’ve experienced on earth. It will be the Great Feast—the Party to End All Parties!

And here’s the good news: Everybody is invited.

That really is the point of this parable in Luke 14. Some form of the word invite or invitation is repeated four times. The Master goes out of his way to invite and re-invite anyone and everyone to His party. Everyone is on the invitation list. All we have to do is RSVP.

The Church is in the invitation business. We’re in the business of inviting people who haven’t RSVPed yet to God’s party.

Steeples

See Also

Luke 14:23 says, “Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full” (NLT).

Do we take that commission seriously?

The Master tells His servants to look behind the hedges! In other words, leave no stone unturned. Verse 21 says, “Go quickly.” There is a sense of urgency! And the master tells them to “urge” people to come. The KJV uses the word compel. It means “to demand attention.”

I have a core conviction: The greatest message deserves the greatest marketing.

Our job as a church is to invite as many people as we can, as quickly as we can. And we’re called to do it in the most compelling way possible!

That used to be easy.

There was a time when nautical maps of Europe had legends that included the location of churches on land. Ships would use steeples as a navigational tool. Churches were built on choice real estate in the center of town or on the highest hill. In some places, there were ordinances against building anything higher than the church steeple so it would occupy the place closest to heaven. The church was the most visible place in town. Church was the place to go. Church was the thing to do. All they had to do was ring their church bells.

Things have changed. I think it’s fair to say that it takes more than a steeple and church bells!

The Church no longer has a monopoly. We’re a minority. We’re not only fighting a negative stereotype by those who don’t attend church. We’ve got some stiff competition vying for our attention.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re driving down the highway or surfing the ‘net. Advertisers are experts at getting our attention via sexy billboards and catchy pop-ups. The average American is subjected to 3,000 advertisements per day. We’re absolutely inundated with them.

It’s not as easy as it used to be to compel people to come to church! We’re competing for attention span in a white-noise world.

We’ve got the greatest message. It deserves the greatest marketing. Maybe it’s time for the Church to stop criticizing and start competing!

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