, Corbin, KY

March 25, 2013

Amazing moments in church — standing all alone

The Times-Tribune

CORBIN — Amazing moments in church is not a subject that I believe I have ever written about. I have written about church many times over the past 20 years but for some reason I cannot recall, the subject matter of ‘amazing moments in church’ I have never put to words until now. I hope the next series of articles will be ones that help to stir within you the value of worship and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Let me set the honest stage of reality. Please remember my traditional church experience is that of a Southern Baptist, which is not a bad thing, but when tradition is added it can be a thing that doesn’t always lend itself to freedom and truth to Him.

So there is no misunderstanding, I love traditions. The First Baptist Church of Spartanburg, S.C. has been traveling to the same geographic location for more than 30 years and their impact, because of their tradition, has been powerful and life changing for the thousands they have touched.

I know churches that have continually reached beyond their church building walls to the communities they are located and have made impacts because they cared enough to give and go. Traditions that do not yield themselves to a positive experience or relationship with Jesus Christ are those that stop us from expressing our love and thanks to Him. Traditions that keep us seated when we should be standing, silent when we should be applauding, and talking when we should be speaking up sharing what Jesus has done for us.

I have had the pleasure of knowing southern gospel artist Shannon Bunch since he was 5 years of age. Having known Shannon and his wife Melissa personally over the years, they recently invited me to travel with them to South Carolina for a three-concert event weekend.

One of those concerts landed us at the Indian Field United Methodist Church. We gathered on a Sunday morning, and walking through the days I felt the onset of tradition immediately. The stain glassed windows (12 in all) were a part of that traditional mindset. The worship area was draped in the prescribed table clothes and matching pulpit drapes added to that immediate idea of where I was. The organ was located in the choir loft and mirrors were properly placed for the instrumentalist to observe the congregation and the song leader which added even another element of tradition to my perceived reality.

As the people gathered I observed some of them going to what I assumed were almost assigned seats. Some had pillows for back support and as the children ran around, they seemed to also know exactly where they would be sitting for the service. Again, all these things added to my thoughts of a very traditional service indeed.

My amazing moment came when a lady stood alone all by herself in honor and praise of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was obvious she had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and there was nothing that was going to keep her seated in her pew when the song “How Great Thou Art” was song.

Shannon Bunch does something really unique when he is leading worship. He takes song requests from the audience. This could be something he does because of the traditional prayer request thing we often do, but its impact is powerful when experienced this way.

She had asked him to sing and play “How Great Thou Art” and when he did, she stood up all alone in the congregation.

It was a truly amazing moment for me. Witnessing her express her faith was so encouraging. Against all the odds, and the traditions, she stood up to acknowledge how great her God was.

This was an amazing moment in church for me.

Until then...