Sunday, February 10, 2008

Interesting Church Day

I preached today in both of our services. Celebration (8:45am - leans more blended/traditional) went really well. Our crazy video, that I will post later, was good. The people laughed. I wore a suit and said, "Finally Pastor Dave is gone and I can dress the way that I really want to." They also thought that was funny. I got some great feedback from people that I don't normally hear from, so that was cool.

Then in Elevation I did the same thing and it went well for the most part. I had a person planted in the service that was going to tell what it was like for a new person at Calvary. That was pretty good too. I tried to reduce the guilt trip factor of it a little bit. But then things started to go a little weird. My hands-free mic went out and so I had to use the hand-held one. That always bums me out.

Then this random homeless man with a big bag and an artificial leg walks into the room in the middle of the sermon and walks all the way up the center aisle to the front row. Don't get me wrong. I am very comfortable with people of all different backgrounds and situations coming to our church, but when you are on stage and somebody is walking up to the front row in the middle of the sermon - it throws you off a bit. Especially when they are talking kind of loud and you're not sure if it's to you or to themselves. He took about two minutes to get all his stuff put down and then sits right in the front center seat. Then he starts talking out loud to me. He was being very supportive, but really loud. He starts pulling stuff out of his bag. Remember, I'm still trying to preach. Also, our church has stepped up our security since the church shootings in Colorado on the same day that we had a man come on our stage in the middle of Pastor Dave's sermon. So I see one of our police officers that attends the church move up to about two rows behind the man, whose name I found out after church was Bill. The officer told me later that he was just watching what was being pulled out of the bag in case it was a weapon. Then i see one of our elders come and walk up to Bill. Remember, I'm still preaching. I say, "It's OK, let's keep going. It's cool." So then the elder sits down next to Bill and he was awesome. He puts his arm around him and starts talking with him and is able to help Bill listen without being "too" disruptive. I also see one our church psychologists move up into a position pretty close to the man at this point. Remember, I'm still trying to preach. Then a woman who was friends with Bill walks up the center aisle and high-fives Bill and sits about two seats over and then proceeds to fall asleep. Remember, I'm still preaching.

So at that point I keep preaching and I'm talking about love. Of course. I was proud that our church handled this potentially bad situation with love. We didn't kick him out. We didn't treat him poorly. But we did take precautions. We had an armed police officer and a trained psychologist waiting only steps away with one of our elders lovingly helping the man engage in the service.

I met the man after the service. He was still talking with the elder about 35 minutes after the service. He met another elder who did the same stuff in the Marine Corps as Bill did. Let me just say that this was one of the more difficult preaching services for me. It wasn't bad, but it sure was really distracting to me and everyone else. In the future I think I might address the situation a bit more. Not a lot. But maybe just stop and say. Let's pray and get re-focused. I went way overtime because I was so distracted and slow. I felt like I couldn't remember what was on my notes and what I was supposed to say next. It was weird.

So in eternity's perspective it was a good Sunday. From my communicator's perspective it was horrible. But hey, more people will remember today than most other services.

Thoughts? Were you there? What did you think?


jenni said...

seth and i think you handled it so well!!! seth actually leaned over to me in the middle of it and said "eric is doing so well, i could never remember what i was saying if this happened to me." you did amazing and i think the message was perfect for it. God knew what HE was doing when he had you preach on love today. i was so proud of our church and the way they handled it. LOVE was defintaley on everyone's heart and God used you to put it there. thanks for being a great example :)

seth said...

OMgosh that was gnarly. Jenni and I were sitting right behind our police officer/usher and I was thinking, how would I handle this right now. I had no answers. All I could do was watch him and wonder how did he get here, the way he is, right now. For a moment it did cross my mind (since you just put a spy in our church to test our friendliness) that this was another one of your illustrations. But then I could see by your reaction that it wasn't. Although I wouldn't put it past you.
God worked through you. Be encouraged. I spoke with several people after the service and one was moved to tears by the Lord over this very gentleman.
All goes to show who is in control. God is always working and for some reason or another this sunday will stand out in several people's minds more than others. I must commend you for being able to carry on the way that you did.
God Bless,
Seth Beasey

ayates said...

Eric, I was amazed at how you handled the situation. You seemed to stay calm, cool and collected. God was obviously bestowing mounds of grace upon you. I just prayed at that moment for you and your protection. God is always in control and He is always at work. I was reminded again of the body of Christ working together. Thanks for your message on LOVE. God spoke to me today. Thanks for letting the Lord use you....even in this weird situation.

Anna G said...

Hey Eric -
I gotta let you know, I was really scared for you, and praying for your and Bea's safety the entire time. I was really proud of our people who stepped up and helped calm the situation, but it did shake me up quite a bit. And, selfishly, I have to say that I was a little worried to go back up the stage during the last set.
One cool thing was seeing how everyone responded during the response time. I saw people talking to Bill, and one woman gave him a heart (she gave one to Victor too - so cool.)
Anyway, I think that you handled things really well. And look at it like this - if this is the Sunday that everyone will remember, at least you were dressed nicely.

Anonymous said...

I'm feeling like we need to start the Elevation meeting at least 1/2 hour earlier on Tuesday to Evaluate how well we responded. It was a crazy distraction for me thank goodness for Rick B. ...why do things happen when Dave goes out of town to do marriage retreats?

Anonymous said...

Seriously? A guy with one leg...we're scared of this? It reminds me of my days in the war and when men were still men. C'mon people, let's get scared about scary things, not homeless men with one leg who could use a little more love.

Eric Wakeling said...

OK anonymous (which means you were too "scared" to write your name down), I didn't say that I was scared of anything. I was writing about how distracting it is for anyone to walk up to the front in the middle of your sermon and start unpacking things and talking to you and then his girlfriend comes in and high-fives him and falls asleep. don't make it more or different than what it is? We showed this man a ton of love during and after the service.

Anonymous said...

I didn't say you said you were scared, I simply was disagreeing with what everyone else said. I know you weren't scared at all.

Timoteo said...

Eric... Next time you see my dad, ask him about his 'distracting moment' when he was performing a wedding in Mexico. -Classic-
This is only one many crazy stories to come, I look forward to being thoroughly entertained!

Anonymous said...

of course, the one Sunday that i go to Celebration instead. I always miss the good stuff... Actually i would say in this case i got the good stuff - since i got to hear the whole message without interruption. I would have been nervous for you and therefore completely distracted had i been in Elevation. Sounds like it was a relatively harmless experience for us to learn from and a good witness of our church body. I am proud of you and everyone!
;) Susie S

Caroline said...

good job...i tthought you handled it well. abby and i were totally scared and distracted.