At Eastridge Community Church, where I work (and where I’ve been a member for over a quarter century), I’m part of the team that plans and executes our Sunday services. I also direct the services, so I try as much as possible to have a handle on what’s going to happen. I guess you could say that I like to think I have control of the components of the service every week, but sometimes I need a reminder that I’m not the one in control.
A couple of weeks ago, I got that reminder loud and clear. We had a lot of elements that were out of the ordinary that particular Sunday, including a guest speaker and baptisms. I also had the added responsibility of hosting the service – making announcements and handling the offering thought.
In our final pre-service meeting with the band, worship leaders, and technical team, Trey Bailey, our executive pastor and the day’s worship leader, said, “Today there’s no Plan B,” and everything proceeded as well as we could expect until about halfway through the first service, when the power went out. As the guest speaker spoke without amplification and bathed only in the glow of emergency exit lights, I breathed a quick prayer and sought out Trey.
Trey and I determined that we would have to come up with Plan B. What about baptisms? How would we handle the worship set, with all its bells and whistles? What if the batteries in the emergency exit lights went out? We briefly thought about hauling chairs outside for second service, but we knew we couldn’t move a full baptismal pool outdoors, and ambient light would be a problem.
In the end, we chose to find as many alternative light sources as we could, restructured the worship set list so that it would work in an acoustic setting, and put the service in God’s hands. We grabbed a couple of extra vocalists to help sing without microphones (including yours truly), and we were off to the races!
The auditorium was full, and nearly everyone sang along with abandon. It was a refreshing change to hear the congregation singing along so clearly and loudly. As the ushers passed the plates for the Lord’s Supper, we made sure to instruct everyone to hold onto their juice cups so that no one after them picked up a used cup!
And then came baptisms. We generally perform baptisms once a month, and it’s always special. This month’s candidates just happened to all be children, and a couple of them had their dads baptize them. Add to that poignancy the fact that we did these baptisms by candlelight in a remarkably silent room. A good friend of mine who is never at a loss for words choked up baptizing his son. Needless to say there were chills all around.
I had the unenviable task of following baptisms up with the least exciting part of the morning – announcements. I had enough lung power even after singing to convey the information, and then I prayed over tithes and offerings and asked the ushers to come forward to pass the baskets. About 30 seconds after I stepped off the stage, the power came back on.
I believe that what our church does week in and week out is honoring to the Lord. God speaks to our congregation using the technology at our disposal, but sometimes He takes us out of our comfort zones to get our attention in a special way. That day, He took a kamikaze crow dive-bombing a substation and used the ensuing power outage to draw us even closer to Him – and to remind us all Who is in control.