Sunday, January 4, 2009

Mission trumps Ridge Under Tent

Crazzzzzy morning! I typically sleep well, even when things are stressful, and even when we are planning big events but last night I was restless for some reason. To bring you up to speed, we have been planning a big tent event at Ridge Church for several weeks. Emphasis on several weeks--as opposed to months like we would have preferred!

We found out on very short notice that our facility would be re-finishing the hard wood floors. We decided that instead of canceling on the first Sunday of the new year that we would just go big and put a tent out back for the adults and do a blow out event. We had to turn it around fast but were able to get everything from the big tent, to tent heaters (just in case) to outdoor staging, to generators, to NOISE permits (CAPS means I am shouting, right?). We were going to blow this thing up!!

The song set was amazing, the takeaways cool. We even had a cool new year party bag ready--everything came together!! And on top of that our people were golden and sent this thing on full viral alert through facebook and blogs. You couldn't escape references to the event. I saw dozens of status comments all week hyping the event.

Then
the thunder and lighting storm hit this morning at 4:30am (in the middle of January?) I rolled in just after 6am and Rusty was already there. Not only had the corner of the tent collapsed under the weight of the rain (1/2 inch in less than 30 minutes!), but we also had a reservoir under the tent that could have probably provided water for a small village. Okay, I exaggerated a little bit. Bitter sweet for sure as we turned away at least 10 cars full of first time guests. At least half of the cars that came through said they had friends coming as well. Sweet to have that many first timers and have created such a buzz--Bitter to have to say "see you next week."

But I love this---Though the decision was painful and heart breaking our mission made it easy. Here is what I mean: We tell our people all the time that we want them to invest relationally in people and invite them to Ridge when the opportunity is there. We also tell them we will be careful to create incredible environments--safe environments for people new or returning to church--environments that ensure a great first experience. Well, because of the circumstance today we simply couldn't hold up on our end of the deal. Rusty summed it up well: "Given the two bad options, we would rather provide no experience than a bad one". I'm so glad that's how we roll.

Our decision to cancel though painful and tough to communicate to everyone, was easy because our mission to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus trumps EVERYTHING else around here. We won't cut corners. There is simply too much at stake. Our people have invested too much in the people they are inviting for us to drop the ball. I love this church!! I love the people. I love the fact that our mission was the filter for our decision even though it was a big financial hit.

I can't wait to see what God does when we return on January 11th, because I think it's going to be huge!! I promise you don't want to miss next Sunday. I'm already stoked about it.

2 comments:

Lisa said...

Hi Chris...

I met you and your wife last year at the Drive Conference and have e-mailed with you and some of your staffers from time to time. I read your blog regularly and I just read your most recent post about having to cancel your tent service today. I was so sorry to read that, but so inspired by what you wrote. I have to say, if it were me... I don't know that I would be as positive and upbeat. Your attitude was a great lesson for all of us in ministry. I had a similar experience (although not on the same scale)two weeks ago. I wish I could say my attitude reflected what you shared in your post, but... not really. Thanks for the great example! Best to you and Ridge Church in 2009. Praying for you all...

Lisa Molite

Tasha Via said...

We hated to hear that you couldn't meet on Sunday! Look forward to next Sunday...