(Read All About It!)
Cal Jernigan – Senior Pastor
“It was like something out of a bad dream!”
“I’ll never forget it!”
“I’d rather die than have to listen to another cricket!!”
(Actual statements heard from witnesses at the scene)
The worship center immediately fell silent; so silent, a major discovery was made. The church had crickets in the building! Crickets, I’m telling you! Big. Nasty. Loud ones. All you could hear were crickets! And they were everywhere!!! It was ugly! It was scary!
What caused the response that led to the silence that led to this unfortunate discovery?? It had to do with a couple of questions that our Mesa Campus Pastor Perry Emerick had the audacity to ask the congregation gathered at the last service of the weekend. The first question seemed innocent enough. The second question is what stunned the crowd and set off the aforementioned silence.
Here’s how it developed. A few weeks ago after I had finished delivering the message, Perry got up and, unbeknownst to any of us beforehand, decided to fire off these questions. The first seemed innocent enough. The second definitely did not!
First, he said,
“How many of you are sitting in the same seat you sit in every week when you come to church?”
Great question! The place erupted with hootin’, hollerin’ and plaudin’! It was LOUD! As people, we are apparently quite proud of our faithfulness to the very seat we choose to worship God each week! (That’s right… this is MY seat! I have season tickets for it!). “Yep! I am a faithful follower of Christ! Always here! Always faithful! Thanks for pointing it out!”
So after the clamor died down a bit, he dropped the second question. Get ready…it’s loaded!
“How many of you know the names of the other people sitting within a fifteen-foot radius of where you are now sitting?”
Enter the crickets.
Silence. More crickets. Louder crickets. Uglier crickets. The invasion began.
Silence over such a simple question.
Silence, despite the fact that every week we stop the flow of the service and give us all a chance to say, “Hi” to those who are seated by us. “Welcome someone to Central! Introduce yourself!” are the directions we are given.
“But, Pastor, you don’t understand! The people I’m surrounded by are hostile to the gospel message! They would certainly reject anything to do with issues of faith!”
No, wait. That’s the excuse we use as to why we don’t know our neighbors. Our literal physical neighbors. You know… those guys. “They would never come to church with me even if I asked them. They won’t even talk to me about it!”
So we don’t talk to them. We don’t ask them to come with us to church. We ignore them.
At the risk of being burned at the stake, can I suggest something?
Maybe the problem is with us… not them!
Here’s my thinking. If we don’t risk becoming “social” enough to build a relationship with other believers, believers who come to the same church as we do—and worship at the same hour we do—and sit “week in and week out” in the same seat right next to us, could we be the ones who are rejecting them? And by them, I am referring to our literal neighbors, the ones we are certain are hostile to us? Are we actually the hostile ones?
“So exactly what do you expect me to do about this?”
I’m so glad you asked! Two things. Two very simple things.
This weekend, when you come to church, why not determine to meet two or three other people? “Well where would I ever find them?” They are seated right next to you! Take the risk. Ask them their name. Listen to their answer. Memorize it. Tell them your name. Be friendly!
Second, and you know this is coming… Why not do the exact same thing with your literal neighbors? “Well where would I ever find them?” They live right next to you! Take the risk. Ask them their name. Listen to their answer. Memorize it. Tell them your name. Be friendly!
If you do this, two things are certain to happen. One, you will make some new friends. And two, you will eradicate the cricket invasion in both your church and your neighborhood!
All it takes to remove the scourge of the killer crickets is a smile and a friendly gesture.
Win and Win!