Often churches asked us how we package a special emphasis in our church? Well, let me show you an example of an 8-day emphasis we are doing at Cross Church for the week of Easter.
For several years I have desired to provide our people with a special series of powerful days prior to Easter Sunday. I wanted these days to assist in:
Providing a track of spiritual preparation for the celebration of Easter.
Highlighting biblical passages and experiences from the final week in the life of Jesus Christ.
Experiencing the solemnness the day Jesus died on the cross, what we regard as Good Friday.
As a leader, you come to a point and determine, “I am going to do this” regardless of what appears to challenge it. I determined that in 2013, Cross Church was going to provide an 8-day spiritual experience and biblical path that would highlight some of the major events and experiences of the final week of Jesus’ life.
Highlights of “Passion Week: The Final Week in the Life of Jesus Christ”
This is our theme for our 8-day experience that will lead us to having an Easter week with great impact. I decided rather than debating a chronology of timelines for the week, I would just lead us to teach and focus on some of the highlights of the Passion Week, the final week in the life of Jesus Christ.
You can see below how we are packaging these days around this theme.
Sunday, March 24, “The Lord’s Supper: Remembering the Gospel of Jesus Christ”
On this Sunday, we will teach the Word of God from Matthew 26:26-30 and do so for about 25 minutes. Then we will lead in a meaningful Lord’s Supper service that remembers the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Monday, March 25 – Friday, March 29
For five days, Monday through Friday, we will provide a noon-day experience for our people, that will include lunch, a 10-minute worship experience through singing, followed by a 35-minute biblical exposition.
Over these five days, we will teach the following . . .
Monday, March 25, “The Garden of Gethsemane: Jesus Christ Preparing to Die”
Tuesday, March 26, “The Betrayal of Judas and the Kiss of Death”
Wednesday, March 27, “The Denials of Peter and his Deep Regret”
Thursday, March 28, “The Scourging of Jesus Christ and the Final Hours Before His Death”
Friday, March 29, “The Crucifixion and The Death of Jesus Christ”
Friday evening, March 29, “The Death and Burial of Jesus Christ”
On Friday evening, we will have a very solemn, dignified, and serious service that will lead us to remembering the death of Jesus Christ. On this evening, we will have a very powerful worship experience with the Worship Choirs of Cross Church, which will be accompanied by the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas. Interweaving in this solemn service, I will lead us to meditate upon the life of Jesus Christ, really focusing on the death of Jesus Christ, and then concluding with a talk about the burial of Jesus Christ.
This Friday evening experience will have a very unique climate and feel. We will even request those who attend to not bring applause at any time during the service. We will be there to think upon the death and burial of Jesus Christ. As we walk out in deep meditation, our hearts will be prepared for Easter weekend.
Saturday Night, March 30 and Sunday Morning, March 31, “The Resurrection of Jesus Christ From The Dead”
The people who walk with us on this track during the Passion Week, will move from solemnity to celebration. On this coming Easter weekend, our people will have the most dynamic experience they have ever had during the Passion Week. We will see the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ because we have more fully understood the death and burial of Jesus Christ.
Finally . . .
This is one way we package a special emphasis in our church. I have led in this process, our Preaching Team has helped me with the Word, our Creative Worship Team has assisted us in overall experience, and our Communication Team will provide us resources to share this Passion Week vision with the masses of people in our region.
Every church does this kind of thing differently and I am sure I could learn from each of you. I hope today you have been encouraged by our methods at Cross Church.
Yours For the Great Commission,
Have you ever thought about how Jesus viewed the Old Testament? Since the Old Testament was the entire Bible in His day, His view of it can be understood as His view of the Bible.
Matthew has the first record of Jesus’ temptations. When Satan came to Jesus in the wilderness in order to tempt Jesus, the Savior’s response was to quote Scripture. His strength to resist temptation was found in obedience to God’s Word.
Later, when confronting the Pharisees, Jesus said, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, because he wrote about Me. But if you don’t believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” How trustworthy were the writings of Moses? Jesus, the living Word of God, equated Moses’ words with His own.
Following His resurrection, Jesus met two disciples walking to the town of Emmaus. During the ensuing discussion Luke relates that Jesus began “with Moses and all the Prophets” interpreting “for them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (24:27). Later, after Jesus vanished before their very eyes they said to each other, “Weren’t our hearts ablaze within us while He was talking with us on the road and explaining the Scriptures to us?” (v 32).
The Word of God changes us. It is not possible to take the Word of God into our hearts, minds and souls and come away the same. And as the Word of God changes us, we change culture.
Jesus called His followers the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Both of these explain how we influence those around us. As we grow in the Spirit and the Word we are compelled to demonstrate the love of Christ around us. We learn how to respond to cultural challenges by God’s Word.
In the Old Testament the men of Issachar’s tribe were known for having an understanding of the times, to know what Israel should do in every situation. How do we know what to do, how to understand culture, how to influence it? Through God’s Word.
The mistake we sometimes make is trying to use God’s Word for changing culture without allowing its changing work in us first. We are quick to condemn the sins of others, point out a few select verses and preach loud and long. Never mind we regularly overlook Scriptures condemning our own preferred sins.
In our blindness we think the world hears our words rather than our actions. They are not so easily fooled. Neither can we try to clean up ourselves mainly so we can call out the sins of culture. We cannot remove the log from our own eyes for the sole purpose of pointing out the splinter in the eye of society. Culture will be better served when we show holiness birthed in a pursuit of God, rather than a quick, critical spirit.
When we pursue God and become immersed in His Word, our image is more conformed to Christ. When we show love instead of hate, patience instead of curtness, gentleness instead of harshness, mercy instead of judgment, or diligence instead of slothfulness, Christ is displayed. And when Christ is displayed doors will open to share the Gospel. As people accept the Christ of the Gospel they, and eventually the culture, are changed.
When I think about Bible Studies for Life I anticipate both personal and cultural change. When the Bible meets life, things change!
I pray God’s Word so powerfully changes us that culture cannot help but feel the impact person by person.