Thursday, July 23, 2009


It’s all in the numbers.

We had VBS this week and spent several hours each night at Crocodile Dock. It was great to see the church full of kids morning and night. A lot of people put a lot of work into making it an amazing time. It’s one of my favorite weeks of the year.

Whenever pastors talk about VBS we ask (and get asked) two questions: What curriculum did you use? How many kids did you have?

The answer to the first question is easy – and the subject for another day. The answer to the second question is a bit more complex than you might imagine. Churches always get hammered when we talk about numbers, as though a focus on numbers was somehow symptomatic of a neglect of people. Actually, if you think about it properly each number represents a real, living, breathing person that we had the honor and privilege of serving. Numbers are important because each number represents a person!

But as I think about VBS; I wonder which number is important.

250 – About how many kids we had at VBS last week. It represents 250 people that we had the opportunity to serve. We share with them and they share with us. We experienced Christ at work in them and hopefully they experienced Christ in us.

100 – About how many volunteers it took to pull VBS off. They were amazing too: youth, adults, craft people, game people, music leaders, registration people, tech team – and a whole lot more. Every time you turned a corner you ran into a volunteer in a purple shirt!

1,250 – Cans of non-perishable food we collected for the food bank/food pantry here in our area. It’s great that our VBS week can help support one of the ongoing ministries of our church that keeps us looking outward. It’s too easy to be a church that remains inside, looking at the world through our rose-colored stained glass windows.

1 – “If we only touch one kid; this will all be worth it.” I heard that sentiment a lot last week and they’re right. It’s not about volume (number of kids) it’s about significance – reaching one well.

But what if we don’t reach anyone? What if 100 volunteers work all week with 250 kids and we collect 1200 items of non-perishable food for the food pantry/soup kitchen and we don’t change the life of a single, solitary child? What then? Have we failed? Was it worth it?

A few days ago I asked some folks, “Why do we do it? For the kids? For us? For the fun? The energy it creates? The creativity it generates? The smiles it births? Why do we do it?” I got a lot of responses, none of which were necessarily wrong, but none were what I was really thinking about.

As followers of Jesus, why do we do what we do? For the results? Or out of obedience and faithfulness? I think we do VBS because someone once said, “Let the little children come to me and don’t stop them.” That’s it. It’s that simple. We do VBS (and a lot of things like it) because Jesus said to his followers, “This is what I want you to do.”

Results matter to God, but ultimately the results are God’s department. For us, the most significant number of VBS week may be = 0.

We do what only we can do so that God can do what only God can do.


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Declaration of Dependence

IN MARYLAND, July 4, 2009.

The unanimous Declaration of my heart, my soul, my will and my conscience,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one man to dissolve the spiritual bonds which have enslaved him, and to assume the union to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God call him, a decent respect to the opinions of all requires that he should declare the causes which impel him to the union.

I hold these truths to be self-evident, that all are in need of God’s great love, that they are blessed by their Creator with certain unwarranted gifts, that among these are Love, Forgiveness and Grace.

--That to secure these gifts, We must need do nothing save believe,

--That these gifts are offered to us despite our sin and fallen nature, and that God pursues us as the great Hound of Heaven, ever relentless and ever hopeful of our turning. Wisdom, indeed, would dictate that God’s great favor should not be ignored nor rejected for light and transient causes; and yet all experience has shown, that we are more disposed to ignobly suffer, and revel in our sin, than to right ourselves by true heartfelt repentance. But when a long train of painful abuses and withering defeats overcome our spirits, it is only right, it is our only hope, to throw off the chains of sin and death, and turn in humility to the Author and Finisher of Faith.

--Such has been the journey of this Man; and such is now the necessity which constrains me yield my former Life to the Master. The history of the Great King of Kings and Lord of Lords is a history of repeated faithfulness and provision, all having in direct object the salvation of my soul.

To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world:
. God has formed the Universe at God’s command and by God’s Word all things came into being.
. God has created humankind and given them dominion over all of creation.
. God has saved Noah through the safety of the Ark and renewed the promise through Noah’s descendents.
. God has raised up Abraham and Sarah to give birth to a great and mighty nation that would be as numerous as the sands of the sea.
. God has chosen the children of Abraham to be the bearers of the message of God to all nations.
. God has saved God’s people from the tyranny and slavery of Egypt and led them to the Land that had been Promised them.
. God has sent the prophets to call all God’s children to faithfulness. Those prophets have convicted the hearts of the people and convinced them of the holy ways of the God of Israel.
. God has, in the fullness of time, begotten a Son through the Virgin Mary.God has sent this Son, Jesus, that all might know God’s love and experience eternal life through belief in Him.
. God has demonstrated victory over sin and death through the resurrection of Jesus from the Grave.
. God has given us power to live victoriously by the presence of the Holy Spirit.
. God has promised to faithfully guide and direct the lives of God’s followers so that they may dwell in wholeness, health and security.
. God has promised to return and claim those who call upon the Lord’s name and receive them into the Kingdom of God.
. God has promised that nothing in all of creation can separate us from God’s great Love in Christ Jesus.

I, therefore, John M. Wunderlich III, by Authority of the Holy Word of God, solemnly publish and declare, That I am, and of Right ought to be Wholly and Completely dependent upon God; that God alone is the source of my strength, the fount of my wisdom and the object of my unwavering devotion. And for the support of this Declaration, I pledge to him my Life, my Fortune and my Destiny.