On Oct.15, 1981, one man initiated an act that would change the experience of professional sports for all time. It was the third game of the American League play-off series between the Oakland Athletics and the New York Yankees. On that day, Krazy George Henderson knew he wanted to do something extraordinary. He saw it before anyone else in the stadium. With a drum in his hand, he worked hard to rally the attention of those in the sections around him. He started to generate enthusiasm for what he imagined: “A gesture that would start in his section and sweep successfully through the crowd in a giant, continuous wave of connected enthusiasm.” This transformative event later proved historic because on that day Krazy George invented “the Wave.”
Dov Seidman comments on the phenomenon: “The Wave is an extraordinary act. All those people spread out over a vast stadium, with limited ability to connect and communicate, somehow come together in a giant cooperative act inspired by a common goal: To help the home team win. It defied language and culture, occurring regularly throughout the world at Tower of Babel events as diverse as the Olympics. … It transverses gender, income and societal status. It is a pure expression of collective passion released.”
This story about Krazy George and his invention of the Wave reminded me of the impact of the early church as recorded in the Book of Acts. In Acts 5:28 we find an enemy of Christianity accusing the early believers of “filling Jerusalem with your doctrine!” Unbelievers in Thessalonica declared, “These that have turned the world upside down are come here also” (Acts 17:6). Sounds like Wave language to me and arouses my thought that a movement of God across any community might behave like a Wave in that community today!
“How can my church see that happen in our community? What would have to take place for a “God Wave” to sweep our area?” Far be in from me to play the Holy Spirit and be definitive with my answer. Further, I am not sure it involves any single component, but several. Let me venture to suggest a factor which is primary for a church to be God’s agent in producing a “God-Wave” in their community.
For a church to be creating “Waves for Christ,” they must know why they are here. To put it another way – the church must know the business it is in! Here’s a challenge: Ask this question during your next deacons meeting (or Sunday School meeting, or even during a Sunday or Wednesday evening service). Ask those attendees to list the purposes of the church in order of their priority. “Bible Study. Fellowship. Ministry. Worship. Evangelism,” are the familiar answers I have been given. Incredibly, when they are prioritized, evangelism is never first! “Should it be?”
Let me answer this way: If Jesus Christ were still on this earth in the flesh and was your pastor, what would be His number one priority for your church? I believe it would be the priority he stressed when He was here (Luke 19:10, John 10:10, John 20:21). The Scriptures are abundantly clear: If our Lord Jesus was a pastor on earth today, His ministry would be evangelistically driven! Leaders in today’s church carry holy orders from Jesus. As His Body, the church must champion the priorities He did, ruthlessly avoiding what Reggie McNeal has described as “mission amnesia.” (Incidentally, Reggie will be one of the speakers for next month’s CORE Conference – don’t miss it or him!).
I read the story about a guy who woke up one morning in terrible pain. Every place he touched on his body produced agony. He scratched his head, and it caused pain. He rubbed his shoulder and pain surfaced. He touched his knee and pain raced throughout his body. He finally decided something was terribly wrong with him so he called the doctor’s office to get an appointment. Dialing on his touch tone was almost unbearable. After consulting with the man, the doctor did a complete and thorough exam. As the doctor walked into the room to report his findings the aching man frantically jumped up and asked the doctor if he was about to die. The doctor said, “No, according to the X-rays, you have a broken index finger.”
A church without the priority of evangelism is a broken index finger to the rest of the ministry of that church. A church without it will never create Waves for Christ in its community. Aubrey Malphurs says, “You won’t do ministry that matters until you define what matters.” Have you shared Christ with anyone this week?