35 Years and Flannel

What do Hope’s 35th Anniversary and old flannel shirts have to do with one another? Good question.

I grew up wearing flannel shirts and t-shirts. I still wear flannel shirts and t-shirts. They’re comfortable and simple. A few weeks ago, I had to do something rather sad. Two of my favorite flannel shirts were so worn out, they had to be thrown out. In life, especially as you get older, we become more and more settled into our comforts, routines, and habits. Change becomes harder.

35 years ago, when Hope began, I was 29 years old and was younger than all of our Founding Families, except for Mel and Kimberly Whiteside. One of the primary reasons I was hired as the Planting Pastor was to think outside the box and to implement whatever it took, short of sin, to effectively reach our community for Jesus. A primary desire of our Founding Families was to see as many as possible come to know Jesus, fall in love with Him, and become disciples.

So, we did some rather crazy things from our church norms. Early on we had a worship band and didn’t use hymnals. We met in a shopping center and shared a room with pool tables and pinball machines. We didn’t pass an offering plate but had an offering box which sat on a pool table. We used folded chairs instead of pews. We communicated that we were not really concerned with the type of clothes worn, just so they were not disruptive. During the Service, we even had the audacity to take a coffee break in the same room. (Remember, this was 35 years ago!)

Today, none of these things seem out of the ordinary. But, they were then. And here’s what we often forget and overlook. For many of our Founding Families many of these things were a real stretch. They were new, unfamiliar, and uncomfortable. But, even so, they set aside their personal preferences and comfort levels, because they had a deeper desire to see as many as possible come to know and fall in love with Jesus and become His disciples.

Jesus did not call us primarily to comfort and worrying about ourselves, our wants, and desires. Rather, Jesus called us to sacrifice, to do what we must do, in order to help effectively pass on the Good News of Jesus to every nation. It’s not just about us. It’s about the world which is in desperate need of Jesus. Sometimes, we must get out of our comfort zones, let go of our preferences, and get out of the way.

Jesus said in Mark 2:21-23, 21 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. 22 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”

Hopesters, maybe we should thank our Founding Family members and also ask ourselves what we are presently holding onto which is hindering people from coming to know Jesus? Warning, it might be unpopular and uncomfortable. What do these new wineskins look like?