-The Sermon Starts in the Parking Lot-

A friend of mine sent me an audio clip of Pastor Steven Furtick reading a note that a visitor of Elevation Church sent him after attending their Sunday worship experience. The letter was bragging on the volunteers for loving and honoring the guests that come to Elevation Church each and every week. That particular Sunday, Pastor Steven was preaching on “Honor” and the guests felt that the volunteers were really living out the message even before it was spoken.

As a pastor of a church plant, I know that we live and die by our volunteers. There is no way a worship experience could be done with excellence at a new church without countless hours of sacrificial service by an army of volunteers. Yet, what these volunteers do is so much more important than parking cars, cleaning bathrooms, or greeting people at the door. They play an important part in communicating the message that I preach each Sunday. Even though I’m the Teaching Pastor, our volunteers and members preach the message of REVO way before I even step on the stage.

For REVO, the sermon starts in the parking lot.

This Sunday morning around 9:30 when our guests and fellow Revolutionaries start pulling into the parking lot, the sermon entitled ‘Serve Hard’ is already being preached. Rain or shine, freezing or sweating, volunteers enthusiastically scour the parking lot helping people with their bags, unloading kids, and escorting people to the front doors. It’s all part of our Guest Services team, striving to give customer service to our guests that even the finest restaurant or most exclusive club or successful business would be jealous over!

Guest Services preaches the sermon almost an hour before the stage lights go up.

After a warm greeting, people are welcomed to a table covered with pastries, donuts, drinks, and gourmet coffee. Our volunteers are always nearby, willing to help serve people that want to grab a bite to eat and a good cup of coffee before the service starts. It’s our way of making people feel welcome at REVO, taking an approach that blurs the lines between good friend and special guest.

Our hospitality volunteers preach the sermon about 30 minutes before the doors to the auditorium even open.

When parents roll in with strollers full of kids and diapers and bottles of juices labeled with brightly colored nametags, the kid’s volunteers take over. Check-in help, loving on kids, and serving their parents are all part of the atmosphere.

rWorld kids volunteers preach the sermon about 15 minutes before the first chord is even strummed on the guitar.

When people walk into the auditorium, volunteers are waiting to help you get seated. Need to find 4-5 seats all together in an already crowded room? Just follow one of our volunteers. Is loud music not really your thing? Here’s a pair of earplugs. Don’t know what to expect in one of our worship experiences? No worries, we’ve got the answers.

REVO volunteers are preaching the sermon even when there’s still 4 minutes left on the countdown.

I can’t wait to hear Russ Bennett (REVO’s strategy pastor) preach on ‘Serve Hard’ this Sunday. I’m just as excited that our volunteers will be living out our core values way before Russ opens his bible.

So, to our REVO volunteers and Revolutionaries in Winston-Salem, and to pastors and churches everywhere: the next time someone asks you who is preaching this week, you’ll know the answer.

We all are.


Noah said...

The team has done a great job so far. I am grateful for everyone's dedication to God's vision for REVO and am excited to become a part of that plan myself. May we all keep our eyes fixed on the author and perfector of our faith.

Anonymous said...

I just commented on your most recent blog post, so I'm sorry if I'm inundating you with a barrage of comments and questions, but I'm searching for something, anything right now, and wondering if there might be answers here.

How are your volunteers preaching the sermon before you do? What then, is 'preaching a sermon'? Is it more than relaying truth from a divinely inspired book? Or, as the Christian faith would put it, preaching the Gospel.

Again, sorry for these questions. They may be dumb - I'm just trying to figure some things out.


-NC said...

Thanks for the questions, no need to apologize for asking! The sermon is in fact the proclamation of the Word of God from the stage on Sunday morning. However, it's not just the pastor's responsibility to "preach the Gospel." It's something that followers of Christ have the opportunity to do every day, which includes verbally and nonverbal communication.

At REVO, we want our volunteers and staff "practicing what we preach." For example: I don't want to get on stage and preach a sermon about the importance of loving other people like God has loved us, while our volunteers are outside being rude, hateful, and unhelpful. It comes across as hypocritical, fake, and inauthentic. How can we as a church and staff convey the importance and ramifications of life change through Jesus if it doesn't even look like our lives have been changed?

Our parking lot attendants love people. Our greeters love people. Our kids ministry loves kids. When people see this, and hear me talk about the importance of love from the stage, they know it's not just lip service. They know the love of God through His Son has radically changed our lives and has a direct effect on how we treat others.

Our volunteers are sending out a message (preaching a sermon of sorts) way before I ever stand up to speak. That message can either support and add proof to the life changing message of Jesus, or discredit that message and cause people to think we are all talk and no walk.

This particular post was a challenge to our volunteers and members that what they do every Sunday is playing a part in seeing people's lives revolutionized by Jesus.