This past weekend our church, Elevation Church in Charlotte, had an incredible weekend. I was blessed to be a part of this. Words cannot express what it felt like to be a involved in such a movement of God. But this is a blog, so I will blog a few of my experiences. If the first couple of paragraphs of set up get too boring for you, just make sure you don’t miss paragraphs 5, 8,9,10, and the video link at the bottom, for the highlights.
My weekend began on Saturday morning when Teal and I went to the Blakeney campus to help set up for the weekend. Pastor Furtick was going to make an “altar call” for anyone who needed and wanted to be baptized, and my family had volunteered to assist. I was assigned to the men’s wet changing area; not a catchy name, but we assisted the men who had just been baptized change back into dry clothes. More importantly, we were there to celebrate with them as they began their new life in Christ! As a team, the wet changing area met together and prayed for the upcoming events of the weekend and the potential lives that would be forever changed. We discussed logistics and made plans, so that things would go as smoothly as possible.
Later, the entire campus did a walk-through so that each area would be able to better anticipate any issues that may come up. This is just an example of how the staff works to prevent any possible distractions that might hinder someone from experiencing God. Teal was one of the sample baptizees (my made up word), there were about 6 of them. During the middle of the run-through, the associate campus Pastor, Nick Dooley, stopped the entire process down and announced that the young man doing this run-through was actually not a run-through. He had given his life to Christ and was following Him in baptism. We all gathered around closely and had a huge celebration with him as he came up out of the water. I knew this weekend was going to be incredible!
Saturday afternoon Tate and I showed up at about 3:00 for the 5:00 pm Worship Experience. Teal and Tina were volunteering at the Matthews campus (wouldn’t want you to think they were heathens or anything). We helped the team make sure everything was set up in the wet changing area, and anywhere else we could find that we were needed. At about 4:00, I left and went inside the auditorium to begin my prayer team “duties”. I love doing this.
Skip ahead to the Worship Experience. Pastor Furtick is speaking and I’m in the VIP room praying. During this time I pray for the volunteers, staff, the people attending, and mostly intervening for Pastor Furtick as he speaks, that God will speak directly through him. Anyway, as I’m praying, I hear thunder. Uh-oh. I momentarily switch my prayers to weather, in my mind, rain would not be good. I picture the rest of the team outside scrambling to move bags, towels, etc. into the tent. Pray, Tim, pray. I begin my interceceding prayer again. More thunder, more weather prayer. Back to interceding. I hear a little rain, back to weather. Then, very clearly, in a still small voice which seemed so much louder than any thunder, God speaks to me, and if I may take the liberty of paraphrasing God, He says, “Shut up about the weather already, I got this!” Wow. God proceeded to take a moment to make it clear to me that he wanted a few extra minutes to convict some folks in the auditorium, and Pastor Furtick was going to stretch his sermon a bit.
So it was back to interceding. During the next 30 minutes or so, the bottom fell out of the sky outside. I mean hard, cats and dogs, buckets, all the other expressions for raining hard that I can’t think of right now. But I had no trouble focusing on my praying anymore, I was actually celebrating the rain and praying for the hearts and souls of those being convicted. As I heard Pastor winding down his message and delivering the invitation, I went outside to join the others in the wet changing area. It was still drizzling, most everyone was drenched, but the bags and towels were still dry.
We could hear Pastor deliver the invitation for those who wanted to be baptized to make their way outside. The rain had stopped, but I barely noticed. Again, I cannot describe the feeling of seeing droves of people pour out of the building; celebrating, crying, doing both at the same time! Some I knew, many I did not, of course, but they all had shared in the experience of being led by God to be baptized.
As the baptisms began, me and another man, Patrick, began to welcome the men who had just been baptized. Wow, what a privilege to be in this position. I am truly blessed! We celebrated, and we worked hard. Patrick was incredible as he pretty much gathered all the wet clothes, showed the men to the rooms, congratulated them, handed them plastic bags for anything wet they needed to take home, etc., while I spent most of the time congratulating and looking for their names on bags containing their dry clothes.
Flash forward to Sunday a.m.; similar routine to Saturday evening, but no rain. As the invitation began and people by the hundreds began streaming out of the building, Patrick stopped by. He said he would be back to help, but he had something to do first. So I had a little help, but I was basically manning the inside of the tent myself, as Patrick had done the night before. I am glad I had his example, because that was not an easy job, and it was HOT! Anyway, about 2/3 of the way through, Patrick arrives. He’s soaking wet. That thing he had to do was to be baptized! Wow! I gave my new friend a hug as tears streamed down my eyes. Also, he couldn’t get back out of the tent after changing, because he jumped right in and began assisting all the others who had been baptized.
Later that afternoon I received a text from a dear friend in our egroup (That’s elevation speak for small group). He is a new Christian and was texting me to let me know he and his wife had been baptized at the Matthews campus! This was by far the best news of the day! I wish I could have been there to see that, but on the other hand, I’ve already seen the evidence of his new life in Christ.
By the end of the day, Elevation Church had baptized over 1,400 individuals who followed Jesus in baptism. I’ve left out so, so many details and wonderful stories. There is a great video here, http://t.co/Q9nFLet, but even though it is an incredible video, it still doesn’t quite capture what it was like to experience this. If you would like to read about some other experiences, get on twitter and search #follow2011.
Oh, and one more thing, Elevation Church is doing this again next weekend! You should be there.