I've been looking for the answers.
I always look for answers; it's part of my personality. I like questions, but I really like answers. If something didn't work, I want to know why. If it did work, I really want to know the answer so I can try to replicate it. I also need to know the ramifications of the answer for the next time. It's what leaders do.
The masses do not need the answers; they just need to know that they can follow someone who does have the answers.
For some reason, I need to know; I need to lead.
So for the past week, I’ve been asking myself why unprecedented numbers of people showed up for our Christmas Eve services this year. 18,000 people – 32% more than last year (which was a previous record amount) – came to one of 12 services and both campuses had standing room only for most of them.
We had added two services in our 2000 seat auditorium and still didn’t have enough room. Why?
Answer #1 – It was a phenomenal service. My wife and her worship team put together an amazing experience and made it so easy to connect with the story of Christmas in a fun, creative, and worshipful way. Our entire staff worked very hard and our amazing volunteers came through so that we could park the cars and teach the children and transfer candles (and clean up the fake snow).
It is by far my favorite Eve service ever – it’s online at www.parkviewchurch.com go to media and down to Christmas 2012
Answer #2 – (and the important one) People are searching for answers. Ironically I think the real answer is that people are looking for answers. We are a people faced with fiscal cliffs, school shootings, super storms, and that doesn’t even begin to address the issues that are going on in our own lives. People need answers.
Add to that the silly Mayan prophecy deal about the end of the world. I mean, no-one really took it seriously – but it was in the back of our minds.
Maybe the “nearishness” of the end world draws us together more than we realize.
If you saw “Les Miserable” they did a remarkable job of showing the hopelessness of the downtrodden lower classes in France during that time period. I believe there is something in the hopelessness of our lives that inspires us to look for hope-answers somewhere new. For them it was revolution, for some it is an election, sadly for many it is in a bottle or a pill. But at the end of the day (or the end of a year, as it were), none of those man-made answers suffice for long. We still need REAL answers.
I believe the answer to 18,000 people for Christmas Eve lies in the search for real answers. Which made me so happy that I have the wonderful occupation that I have; one in which I get to share The Answer.
"Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:11
I for one am heading into a new year – an unlucky number year no less – with incredible optimism and joy and hope and peace. If we fall off the cliff, or more sick people hurt children, or the world seems hopeless for whatever reason – I HAVE THE ANSWER.
"May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you” Ps 32
This is actually the reason we gather as a Christian community. If the end of the world is near…ish – we should have record crowds.
"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Heb 10:25
Nearishness means we should hang out! That's the answer.
PS – So if you go to Parkview – please come on Saturday night. If we had 5000 extra people for Christmas Eve, I’m guessing some of them will come back. And they always come on Sunday! Please come on Saturday! The End is Near...ish.