For the past year, most of our conversations at New Life have centered on meeting the needs of our city and helping mobilize our church to become more missional. We believe our church has to become more focused on the world that exists outside our church walls and not continue our fixation on attendance at events on our campus. However, there is still a real need for the big event, especially in our culture.
In two weeks, we expect around 50,000 people to come to our campus to watch the Thorn and the Crown. The Thorn is a spectacular portrayal of the Passion of Christ and the Crown is a children’s version of the same story. We will have ten performances of each show the weekend before Easter and the weekend of Easter.
The challenge for us is to make sure this event advances our mission and does not distract us from our mission. The investment into these two events is staggering – over a thousand volunteers, dozens of staff members, thousands of dollars. These two events literally consume us for at least two months every year. So what are we doing to do to make sure our investment of time and money bring a Kingdom return?
First, we are praying diligently for those who have never surrendered to Christ to see and hear a clear presentation of the Gospel. We are going to give every person at each performance a simple opportunity to pray for salvation and we are going to diligently follow up with each person who responds.
Second, we are dedicating an entire performance to our city’s military families, who can attend for free that night. Before the performance, we are hosting a dinner for military widows to honor them and encourage them. We are praying this opens the door for more ministry on the local military bases because we have a huge burden for our troops and their families.
We are also going to do a better job of inviting people who do not have a church home back to New Life for weekend worship. We are not targeting people who already attend a local fellowship, but we do want those who are disenfranchised from church to feel welcomed into our family.
So if we see people saved, military families strengthened and the prodigals return to a fellowship, we believe the big event has been successful. I still believe the best ministry happens in our neighborhoods, schools and workplaces during the week, but there is still room in our culture for a big event as long as it has a strategic purpose that is understood and embraced by the church.