One Sunday morning, Pastor McGhee noticed that little Alex was staring up at the large plaque that hung in the foyer of the church. The 7-year-old had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the pastor walked up, stood beside the boy, and said quietly, "Good morning, Alex."
"Good morning, Pastor," replied the boy, focused on the plaque. "Pastor McGhee, what is this?" Alex asked.
"Well, son, these are all the people who have died in the service," replied the pastor.
Soberly they stood together, staring at the large plaque.
Little Alex's voice barely broke the silence when he asked quietly, "Which one, the 9:00 or the 10:30 service?"
Supporting One Another
After an accident in which she lost her arm, a girl named Jamie refused to go to school or church for an entire year. Finally the young teen thought she could face her peers. In preparation, her mother called her Sunday school teacher and asked that he not call attention to Jamie. The teacher promised, but when he got sick on Sunday and had to call a substitute, he forgot to tell the second teacher.
At the conclusion of the lesson that day, which was about inviting friends to church, the sub led the class in doing the hand motions to the familiar children's poem:
Here's the church
Here are the people
Open the door
See all the people.
Jamie's eyes filled with tears. A 13-year-old boy realized how she must be feeling. He knelt beside her. With one hand apiece, they supported each other, making the church, steeple, and people. Together they illustrated what real church is.
In Christian Reader Jim Corley tells of a conversation he had with a friend named Alex who attended his church. Alex was struggling over his many failures to live the Christian life the way he knew he should. One day they met at the car dealership where Alex worked. Corley writes:
That day in his office Alex got straight to the point. "Jim, I feel like a hypocrite every time I go to church because I fail to live for Christ so often."
"Alex, what do you call this part of the dealership? " I asked, nodding to the area outside his cubicle.
"You mean the showroom?"
I smiled. "Yes. And what's behind the showroom, past the parts counter?
"The service department," Alex said confidently.
"What if I told you I didn't want to bring my car to the service department because it was running rough?"
"That would be crazy! That's the whole point of service departments-to fix cars that aren't running right."
"You're absolutely right," I replied. "Now, let's get back to our initial conversation. Instead of thinking of church as a showroom where image is everything, start thinking of it as God's service department. Helping people get back in running order with God is what the church is all about."
Choice Contemporary Stories & Illustrations For Preachers, Teachers, & Writers
Craig Brian Larson, Baker Books, p. 131.
The Church Needs God's Strength & Help To Grow
David Huxley owns a world record in an unusual category: he pulls jetliners.
On October 15, 1997, for example, he broke his own record at Mascot Airport in Sydney, Australia. He strapped around his upper torso a harness that was attached to a steel cable some fifteen yards long. The other end of the steel cable was attached to the front-wheel strut of a 747 jetliner that weighed 187 tons. With his tennis shoes firmly planted on the runway, Huxley leaned forward, pulled with all his might, and remarkably was able to get the jetliner rolling down the runway. In fact, he pulled the 747 one hundred yards in one minute and twenty-one seconds. A superhuman feat indeed.
The church resembles that 747 jetliner. The strength of a few extraordinary humans can pull the institution of the church for very short distances. Or we can pray until God starts up powerful engines that enable His church to fly thousands of miles on the wings of Christ. The church needs God's strength and help to grow.
Choice Contemporary Illustrations For Preachers, Teachers, & Writers
Craig Brian Larson, Baker Books, p. 37.
Everyone Is An Important Part Of The Body
A fourteenth-century Italian stained-glass artist was summoned to design and create a huge portrait for the window of a cathedral in Chartres, France, a place well known for its stained-glass work. He laid all of the pieces he was going to use out on the floor of the cathedral. They were beautiful to behold; most of them were large and colorful. Some of the colors from that time cannot even be reproduced today. Among these awesome pieces of glass was a small, clear piece about as big as your fingernail. As the stained-glass portrait was assembled, that little piece remained on the floor. Only the big colorful pieces of glass were used.
On the day of the window’s completion, the tiny piece of clear glass was still lying on the ground. The entire city gathered to witness the unveiling of the brilliant and beautiful stained-glass portrait. The artist stood in front of the crowd, made his speech, and dramatically pulled down the cloth cover. The crowd gasped at the beauty of the colorful window glowing in the sunlight.
After a few seconds, however, the crowd grew silent. They sensed that something was missing, that the portrait was unfinished. The great artist then walked over to where the little clear piece of glass lay, picked it up, and placed it in the portrait, right in the center of Jesus’ eye. As the sun hit that little piece, it gave off a dazzling sparkle.
The magnificent stained glass window still draws visitors. The first thing they see is that sparkle in Jesus’ eye.
Do you ever feel like that little piece of clear glass? Left out. Untalented. A disappointment. You doubt you can ever do anything for God. Let the story of that last little piece remind you that God thinks of you as the apple of His eye (Psalm 17:8). No matter that in your eyes you don’t measure up to others; you are an important part of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12).
Still More Hot Illustration For Youth Talks
Wayne Rice, Zondervan, p. 30.