Chicago Marathon: Looking Back (Part 3)

And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s supper, shared their meals with great generosity-all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

Acts 2:44-47

I love huge events and I love being around a ton of people… it’s just my personality. It energizes me and fires me up when I’m in the midst of thousands of people.I think of events like the marathon which brought 45,000 people in just to race not to mention the thousands that came to cheer on their friends and family members. I went to the Great Race this year which had 6,000 people there and the Race for the Cure which had 15,000+. I’ve gone to a few country concerts this summer where 40,000+ people came just to hear somebody sing a few songs.

Usually when I am at these events I’ll get really quiet (even to the point where people think I’m being a jerk or thinking I’m depressed). But in fact, it’s quite the opposite, in those times I just look around and watch the sea of people… knowing they came to run for a great cause, see a great show, or to be entertained. It’s usually a time of dreaming for me. Dreaming of what’d it’d be like if a crowd like that gathered to worship God and to hear the Word of God. Knowing that the majority of the people I am looking at feel a void in their lives that they try to fill through so many different means. Knowing that their greatest voids and regrets in life could be spared if they’d only develop a relationship with God.

That is what pumps me up about Joel Osteens church… every week 35,000+ people come to worship God and hear the Word and get their lives changed (and their are churches like that raising up all over the US already!) I truly believe if the church will learn how to effectively reach people then it won’t be long before we see stadiums all over the world filled with people worshiping God. I think we can learn a lot from the events that draw in large crowds like the Chicago Marathon:

What the church could learn from the Chicago Marathon:

VISION – The Bible says that without a vision people perish. Sadly so many churches and ministries in America just simply exist to have church every week. People will go to great lengths (run 26.2 miles and spend a ton of money!) to see a great vision fulfilled. Could the people in your church or ministry tell you why you exist and what your vision is?

EXCELLENCE – When I start to think about running this event I get stressed! Imagine closing down a city, organizing 10,000+ volunteers, and making 33,000+ runners feel like they had an experience that they’ll never forget. This was the best run event I’ve ever seen! The runners never had to worry about anything but running the race. They were organized and efficient. If someone came to your church or ministry for the first time, would they have an experience they’d never forget?

COMMUNITY – There was a book I wanted to buy about how Nike made the running culture into what it is today. It was incredible! From the expo to leaving Chicago on Monday I felt like was in a family. Everyone was wearing their Chicago marathon gear, encouraging each other, asking where each other was from, etc.. All because they had a common purpose. It sounds a lot like the community in Acts 2:44-47 doesn’t it? If we’ll realize that God has called all of us to reach a generation of people … then we need to realize that our churches need to make people feel long they belong to a family-because they do-the family of God.

LOVE – We’re commanded to love people! What does that mean? When people weep, we weep with them and when they’re celebrating, we celebrate with them. Basically, we walk through the journey of life with each other through the good times and bad times. Throughout the marathon, people cried together, laughed together, encouraged together, and after crossing the finish line they celebrated together. Are we doing this for the people in our lives, in our churches, and in our communities?

I know this was long… but I am sick of going to places that get thousands of people to come just to hear a song, get entertained, and leave the same way they came. I long for the day where people come together for the purpose of worshiping God, growing spiritually, and having their lives transformed.

That day will come, but only when the church will provide a compelling vision, excellence in everything they do, a sense of community, and when everything is done in love. I can’t wait until I can to any city in the US and see stadiums packed with people eagerly awaiting to hear the Word of God! That fires me up!

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