I was asked to speak to youth, ages 14 to 25 at a gathering on Saturday night. I had no idea of what to expect. The last time they asked me to speak the “Youth” there were about twenty of them. I was driven to the hall where the church meets, went up the two flights of stairs to a room beginning to fill with young people from all over.
Ten years ago ACCI and Gruppo Cristiano (Aldo Cerasino and Francesco Abortivi) set out to reconcile the division (and oft antipathy) that exists between the various evangelical churches here and all over Italy. Of course, generally speaking, there are some that we never expect to convince (the isolated Brethren and the Assembly of God – not the American one) but surprisingly many others have taken to the idea. Hence, when everyone finally arrived we had an audience of at one hundred or more from as far away as Modena. Presently, and in one way or another ten evangelical pastors regularly meet together and cooperate on evangelism. I know of no where in Italy that anything of this nature takes place. This is one of the biggest ministry success stories I can think of. Without this kind of unity we wind up being just another weird religious group like the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Though they sound checked twenty minutes longer than proposed, once the smoke started pumping onto the platform, lights began to throb and bass licks got people to their feet it became a solid evening all led by about ten young people blended from four area churches.
Now some people might complain that this was all too much like a “worldly” rock concert, they miss what it is all about. I wrote this observation on Facebook just a few days ago.
“What people (especially those who want to hold onto “the way it was”) fail to understand is this. Decisions to have this sort of thing inside a church has nothing to do with theology or a lack of it. This is a “missional” decision. We do this in order to reach the emerging culture. The gospel never changes only the methodology. This is a Cornelius’ house event and no doubt Peter would have to answer for it when called down to the Judaizers in Jerusalem. I hope you understand the allegory. To the Jews, Jesus in the synagogue was akin to smoke and a set of drums. He set the religious culture on its head.”
After an hour of this raucous, ear splitting enthusiasm, I stood and preached to a very receptive audience on “The Parable of the Sower.” After all, their theme was “Rooted in Christ.” As usual, I finally had supper at midnight and in my bed by one to go at it again on Sunday morning.