Last Friday night the Gathering was held in PM. This a once a term event where youth from around the town gather together to eat, chat, laugh and praise Jesus. On face value it is wonderful. Unity is practiced. There is power in numbers. Churches show grace to other believers (thanks people movers for hosting, feeding etc). For a moment we can put aside our church affiliations and be Christian.
Many people I talk to hold the combined ‘event’ as extremely important. They argue from Ephesians 4, Hebrews 12, John 17 etc that Christians are to be united, expressing our eternal oneness on earth. They express disappointment in the differences of our churches and the passion for independence over unity. The propose more and more physical expressions of unity in our cities.
I loved Friday night. I loved how passion for our groups was replaced by a joy in being one. I loved how Churches served one another. I loved how our kids met other kids who loved Jesus; this can only be good for doing mission in our schools. I loved meeting other church leaders and sharing the joy of leading these youth to love and cherish Jesus. The blessing of KYCK, Youth Surge, The Gathering and other combined things is huge
However, i think the whole ideal is more difficult than we think. Stylistic, strategic and theological differences challenged the most humble Christians. You have to sacrfice to make these things work. But how much sacrifice is worth it?
As I have pondered it this week I have come up with a few principles
1) These events are stronger when they are lead by small unified team. This does not mean all groups that attend don’t get to serve. It just means not every group gets a say. The organising group sets the tone, agenda and others get to decide whether to come or not. (Eg. 13:3 Youth events)
2) These events stand or fall on the quality of the preaching. The preaching on Friday was wonderful. Paul spoke clearly, truthfully and strongly. It made my night. Whilst the event has many purposes, the success of the event will depend on the whether the Bible is taught faithfully.
3) The event must be bigger than the event. It is nice to come and hang and sing in a big group. But the vision must be to send a tribe of Christians into schools to live and breathe and speak the saving news of Jesus. We have an opportunity to pray together and be sent together to live for Jesus. Every school in PM was represented on Friday.We must lift our Youth’s eyes above the Gathering and to the mission we work on together.
I have thanked God for my friends who put together Friday’s event. They did a wonderful job.