Last Sunday I taught three services at Liquid Church in Morristown, New Jersey. Liquid is a growing, vibrant, passionate family of believers, and the group’s energy was palpable and contagious. It was an exciting opportunity to connect with brothers and sisters on the other side of the country. Liquid’s lead pastor, Tim Lucas, did something unusual in my experience: he crafted a series of messages making the case for the reliability of the Bible as a Christian apologist (a.k.a. case maker). You’d be surprised how many Christians are still unfamiliar with the evidence supporting the Christian worldview, but that’s slowly changing as pastors are embracing their role and responsibility as Case Makers. Tim scheduled four Case Making messages leading up to Easter and invited me to speak along the way. I was very impressed with the experience and I was particularly inspired by one important Liquid Church leadership team: the roadies.
Liquid Church has several campuses across New Jersey and all but one of these campuses are non-traditional facilities converted for church use on a weekly basis. Their main campus is in Morristown, where they meet every week in the ballroom of the Morristown Hyatt Hotel. They begin each Sunday at 4:30am, unpacking the supplies and equipment they need to convert the hotel ballroom and support offices into a sanctuary and children’s ministry. By the time they are done, the Morristown Hyatt is completely transformed to a place of vibrant worship, teaching and community. All of this is achieved with an intensely committed volunteer “road crew”. Most church leaders tend to measure their success by a number of traditional quantitative statistics: How many people are attending? How many baptisms did we perform this year? How much money was raised to support a particular cause? All of these metrics may be important, but I’ve found the true health and vitality of a church is often measured not in quantitative statistics such as these, but in the passion and intensity of its volunteers. Based on what I saw last Sunday, Liquid Church is healthy and blessed.
As case makers and evangelists, we can learn something important from “roadies”. The Liquid Road Crew has a motto printed on their t-shirts: “First In, Last Out”. They might as well have another motto as well: “Never Seen”. Roadies are generally invisible and uncredited. They are the “behind the scenes” warriors who make everything possible for those who eventually take the stage. I’m one of those guys who gets to stand on the platform, but on Sunday an army of road crew servants set everything up, guided me from point to point, and made sure everything was working properly to make the morning a success. The congregation saw me, but never observed the multitude of people who made my appearance possible. At the end of the morning, many people came away from the service encouraged, and some found themselves considering Christianity’s claims for the very first time. It was the largest day of attendance in the church’s history, and I hope we were able to effectively share the truth. All of us were evangelists that day, including the roadies, but their contribution was selflessly unseen.
As I watched the intensity and commitment of this road crew, I found myself questioning my own dedication. Yes, I’m an obsessive workaholic, committed to defending what I believe as a Christian, but how much of this is simply driven by my own selfish desire to take the stage? Would I be this committed if I knew no one would ever know my name? Am I as willing to do the difficult, anonymous work as I am willing to do the public presentations? Is my passion for the message of Jesus or the presentation of Jim? What is my true motivation? Have you ever questioned yourself in this way? Roadies have something to teach all of us:
Roadies serve week in and week out. Without them, nothing happens. If you’re sharing the Gospel with people, realize it all begins with a commitment to consistency. Share the truth often. Share the truth repeatedly.
Accept Your Position:
Roadies don’t seek the limelight. In fact, I watched many of them duck away from the edge of the stage to make sure they weren’t seen. Not all of us get to preach the Gospel from a stage. Preach it anyway.
Embrace Your Role:
Roadies enjoy their work, even though it might not seem glamorous. When you share the Gospel with someone, you might not be the one who sees an immediate conversion. That’s OK. Your role may be much earlier in someone’s process. Share the truth anyway and don’t worry about the results.
Roadies lift, carry and move stuff. I bet they’re sore at the end of the day. If you’re preparing yourself to share or defend the Gospel, don’t be afraid of the “heavy lifting”. Learning (and knowing) the truth isn’t supposed to be easy; nothing valuable ever is.
Start Over Again:
Roadies do the same thing, week after week. They don’t get bored and they don’t give up. If you’ve been sharing what you believe, you probably know how frustrating it can be. Don’t get bored and don’t give up. Every conversation is a new opportunity to be used by God to bring another soul into the Kingdom.
While I am often guilty of saying something like, “I shared the gospel at an event last week,” the truth has always been, “We shared the gospel at an event last week.” I’ve always been part of a much larger team of Christians who were just as committed to sharing the truth, but knew it wasn’t their turn to take the stage. They shared, none-the-less, by giving their unselfish service to God behind the scenes. Christian case makers and evangelists can learn something from the humility and commitment of roadies. Let’s share the truth in everything we do, even when we’re not on the stage.