For our Sunday tour devotions in Ocala, Florida, I spoke on the theme of 'iChurch'- a sermon first preached by my friend and colleague Pastor Steve Ball at my home church, City Temple in Cardiff. These days, iPhones, iPods, iBooks, iMacs, are must have items- what would the 21st century church look like for it to be as attractive? Of course, it would be a church centered on, modeled on, and inspired by Jesus.
We read a very familiar scripture passage, the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19, and expanding on Pastor Steve's original thinking I cam up with this four key characteristics of the iChurch, all beginning with the letter 'i':
1. Immediate Inclusion-Luke 19.5-6.
Zacchaeus was a man used to being an outsider- a Jew working for the Romans as a tax-collector, despised by all. Jesus called him by name and demanded that Zacchaeus come down from the tree immediately. The iChurch will be the one that welcomes the outsiders, brings in the marginalized, includes the sinners, and gives them a place that makes them feel they finally belong.
2. Intimate Involvement-Luke 19.5-7.
Zacchaeus must have been used to being lonely, lacking close fellowship from anyone but his family. Jesus changed all that, and was willing to eat with him in his house-and risk the wrath of the religious leaders for doing so. The iChurch is the one that meets people where they are at, and introduces them to an intimate relationship with Jesus more than rules or regulations.
3. Incredible Impact-Luke 19.8
Zacchaeus life was transformed dramatically by the intimate encounter with Jesus. Not only did he vow to pay back all the money he had cheated people out of, he promised to do so four times over!
The iChurch is the one that constantly seeks, prays for, and sees Jesus incredibly impact the lives of the lost. We shared some tour stories-just a few that we had heard about- of how Jesus was impacting people's lives through the music ministry of the bands on this tour.
4. Immeasurable Increase-Luke 19.10
Zacchaeus was just one man who was added to the family of God, but Jesus whole mission was to seek and save the lost. The iChurch is the one that takes this mission of Jesus seriously, and through the grace of God, the death and resurrection of Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit, is part of the unstoppable, magnificent increase of God's Kingdom.
We were privileged in our devotions to be joined by Pastor Mark and his family from First Baptist of Ocala, the concert venue, and after sharing a few testimonies of the Lord seeking and saving lost people through the ministry of his church, he prayed a blessing over us all and the night's concert.
The concert itself, as all of the concerts on this 4 show run, was a powerful time with God certainly touching people's lives- the iChurch at work!