I have jury duty starting 8:30 Monday morning, so I thought I’d send this a little early. I am still feeling the afterglow from the CTI young people leading 11 am worship this morning. Super high energy worship! These kids love the Lord so and it comes out powerfully in their music and in their testimonies. It’s a powerful, powerful witness, especially to a church with a 57-year-old pastor who is one of the younger kids around. The church is always one generation from extinction. If we fail in passing our faith to the next generation, who will believe when we are gone? It was inspiring also to see our youth group in full force at the Saturday night concert and at 11 am worship. We have a strong and growing youth group. Much thanks and credit go to Emily and Kaden Thueson, our youthful youth leaders. And I’m thankful to be part of a church with room for the newer, louder, edgier forms of worship and outreach that God is using to reach the next generation. There are a lot of churches that would have said “thanks but no thanks” to CTI. It reminds me of the old story about a woman named Mrs. Coffee. Here’s what I wrote in my Central District newsletter in January 2008:
This United Methodist woman was born with the century — August 26, 1900. When her pastor asked church leaders to park a block away from the church to free up nearby parking for newcomers, Mrs. Coffee dutifully parked off the premises and walked uphill with cane in one hand and Bible in the other. One Sunday, her pastor had the idea to incorporate the newly formed praise team into the traditional worship service. When the guitars, drums, keyboard, and hand clapping started in the chancel, Mrs. Coffee covered her ears with her hands. She later met her pastor at the church door with tears in her eyes. “I cannot stand that loud music in our church,” she said. The pastor started to explain and defend, but she wasn’t through. “Tyler has come back to church. He is going to play guitar with that band. My prayers have been answered.” Tyler was Mrs. Coffee’s 30-something grandson. He was raised in the church but slipped away as a young adult. “I cannot worship with all that noise,” she said, “but I am so glad we are doing it for those who like it.”
God bless Mrs. Coffee. And God bless all of the “Mrs. Coffees” we have in this church. I know it’s hard to remember, and I need to remind myself constantly: The church is not for those of us who are already here so much as it is for those for aren’t here yet.