|Original picture by Kumar83 and obtained from wikimedia under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.|
But whatever else has happened at lock-ins under my almost ten years of youth ministry, I have never had to take a kid to the E.R. because he fell out of a window and everyone thought he had died!
So I'm kind of happy to report that I may actually have a leg up on the apostle Paul in that one specific category!
But I don't really want to focus on this pretty interesting story of the young man Eutychus (who was probably around the early teen years) falling out of the upstairs window. What I want to think about briefly is what led to him falling out in the first place. Paul preached until midnight! And then after the commotion about Eutychus got settled down, they went back upstairs and kept talking until day break!
What we have here is the original lock-in! But instead of the parents trying to hold their eyes open while the teens run wild, it was the teen who couldn't keep his eyes open while all of the adults stayed up all night talking and sharing about their faith!
The reason I'm pointing to that is because their willingness to stay all night points to a couple of things. It points to their excitement about being together! They were truly a family. They weren't there to punch a time clock because good Christians are supposed to "go to church." They weren't watching the sun-dial (or the moon!) to make sure Paul stayed within his 25 minute sermon time slot. They were absorbed in the moment and they realized that whether or not the pot roast burned, the conversation they were a part of and the praise they were giving God and the encouragement they were giving each other to spur one another on to good works was the absolute most important thing in the world that they could be doing!
Just think about the reaction in most of our congregations if the service lasts more than 15 minutes over the usual time! Can you even begin to imagine the bickering that would happen if it went a full hour over time? 2 hours? Most of us head for the doors as soon as the amen is said because we are ready to move on to the next thing. Where is the sense of community? Where is the passion to be with people who are passionate about the same thing(s) you are? Where is the desire to lift each other up and be lifted up?
I don't know what the answer is to these questions. How do we change the culture of the American congregation? How do we recapture the sense of excitement and expectation that enables a group of adults...not just teens...to willingly stay cramped in an upper room all through the night because of a shared salvation, and a shared mission?
I'd love to hear your comments below. When was the last time you were a part of a meeting like this in your church? What can we do to encourage it again? Let's pray that the fire of the Spirit will burn just as brightly today when we meet together as the oil lamps had to burn 2,000 years ago when this church met in the upper room all through the night.
I can't believe I'm gonna say this...but let's get back to the passionate type of Christianity we read about in the book of Acts where Christians of all ages rejoice instead of groan about the idea of a lock-in!