THE CHURCH OF DISNEY
"That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door."- Mark 1:32-33
Quick trivia question for those who love the game show "Jeopardy". What is the largest and most influential fellowship of believers in America? Is it Pastor Joel Osteen and Lakewood Church in Houston? Nope. Is it Pastor Rick Warren and Saddleback Church in Orange County? Uh-Uh. Is it Bishop TD Jakes and The Potter's House in Dallas? Negative. If not these, it has to be Pastor Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Church in Illinois? Not quite.
Please don't get me wrong, all of these congregations are wonderful and impactful in their cities, across the globe, and for the kingdom of God. But last week I experienced a place that has more followers than all of these places combined. The correct answer to the question is "What is the House of DISNEY!" As our family returned to Mickey's Kingdom after a five year hiatus, I was once again amazed at how crowded it was each of the two days there (it was supposed to be the down season) and how committed people are to that place. What I witnessed were throngs of people of all ages, backgrounds, and cultures with a common joy and purpose. The majority of the crowds were dressed in their "Disney Best" with Mickey ears, Disney gear, and Star Wars shirts. The people not only attended the park and wore the proper attire, they were GIVING to the cause. It is amazing to see the lines of people at the stores and restaurants spending more money than I could imagine. And once the day at the theme park is over it is time to TESTIFY with pictures on Facebook and telling others what an awesome and magical place it is.
Even though it has been five years since I last visited to Disneyland, each time I am at an amusement park I have the following thoughts, "Why are churches not filled with this many people and why is there a lacking of this type of sheer joy and excitement?" Again, the answer to this can be rather simple in that people are going to these fun places to be entertained and served, and that is simply not why the Church of Jesus exists, nor should it be what it succumbs to. Upon greater review and consideration, the real question on my heart has nothing to do with competing with Disneyland in terms of the number of people attending and the type of programs it provides. What I want to see and strive for is based on answering how do "we" as those who believe in Jesus and who are called "The Church", come to the place of worship, the place of faith, the place where God's people gather and His presence dwells (all of which are of far greater value and consequence than any worldly attraction), with a greater sense of joy, commitment, and expectation?
The reality is that the place where God dwells and His people gather should be unrivaled in life, light, love, and power. Jesus said in Matthew 18:20, "For where two or three gather in My Name, there am I with them." Really, can anything bring greater results and greater reason to attend than that! So as we come to Christmas, which is a story of people arriving to the place where Jesus was born, let's become a people who can learn from those who are visiting the world's definition of "The Happiest Place on Earth".
* May we come to church with a JOYFUL EXPECTATION that God is going to show up and do special things in our midst!
Psalm 122:1- "I rejoiced with those who said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the Lord."
* May we come to church DRESSED BY THE SPIRIT in a way that is clearly marked by love, faith, and righteousness!
Colossians 3:12- "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience."
* May we come to church READY TO GIVE of our resources in order that our lives become a sacrifice and the needs of the community are met!
Romans 12:13- "Share with the Lord's people who are in need. Practice hospitality."
* May we leave the church each Sunday with a STORY TO SHARE of how great God's love is and how He changes lives!
Psalm 105:2- "Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell of all His wonderful acts."
In this season that celebrates the Light that has come into our world, let's be a people that continue to rise in our joy, passion, and commitment to the Lord. There is truly no other Kingdom like His and there is no other place we can find true love, peace, hope, and transformation. For the Church of Jesus is meant to be the most joyful and powerful place on earth!