On this day, fifty years ago, the Beatles played their final live concert at Candlestick Park, in San Fransisco, CA.
For almost five years, the band toured all over the world. But over that time, they had grown weary from the almost non-stop traveling. They had also been spooked a time or two by threats made against them (this was just a few years after Jack Kennedy was gunned down, mind you) and had almost been arrested in Manila, Philippians after they accidentally insulted the then-dictator’s wife.
After years of touring, they were ready to hang it up, so they did one last show at Candlestick Park and then retired from live performing.
But they didn’t retire from music making. Instead they went back to the studio and, free to experiment with sounds and styles that wouldn’t work on a stage, they crafted some of the most inventive and original pop music ever heard. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, along with the single Strawberry Fields/Penny Lane were their first post-live act outputs and they demonstrated that the band had not quit; they had evolved.
Anyone can get into a rut. No matter how much good we may be doing, if we are only doing that one thing, the same thing, the same way, over and over, it can become tiresome. The Beatles’ fans were not sick of listening to them live, but the band knew they needed to grow or they would die. Other artists chose not to evolve and their same tired act eventually dragged them down until they were just a parody of their former self…
As church-goers it’s important for us never to get into a rut when it comes to our weekly assembly. We must always be looking for new things we can do, new approaches we can take, new ways to invite people, teach people, prick the heart of someone, etc. The Gospel doesn’t change, but the hearts and minds of the world are constantly evolving. The way we take the Timeless Gospel to the world must reflect that: We preach a timeless Message, but we must do so in a Timely way.
Just yesterday, our congregation at Guy had our 5th annual Friends and Family Day/Homecoming Sunday. We have over 200 people in attendance (double our usual). It was wonderful! But we can’t rest on our past success. If we do, we’ll get into a rut and that success will eventually whither away.
Throughout this month, as Homecoming Sunday approached, I kept thinking about how five years of doing this had seen greater and greater success, but I was also looking ahead. We need to be proactive, not reactive. So I think what I’m going to propose for next year (and, Lord willing, for the next five years) is that we have TWO Friends and Family days..with the next one coming in February (six months from now).
And then, after five years of doing that, we can evolve again, by maybe doing FF Day/Homecoming on the four 5th Sundays of the year. And then, a few years after that, we can evolve again to having a FF Day one Sunday a month.
Eventually, we’re going to get to the point where we have 200+ people EVERY Sunday. And then, once we get to that point, we’ll evolve again, and we’ll think of something new to do once again that will bring in over 400 people! And then, once we get to that point, it’ll be time to add a second story to our auditorium!
I tell the congregation all the time: “If we’re not growing, we’re dying.” They’ve taken that message to heart and we have grown every year. We’re not just baptizing the kids who grew up here either. We’re not just welcoming Christians who have moved to town. We’re teaching and converting the lost and expanding the borders of the kingdom in every direction.
We’re nearing the end of my first five years here. As far as I’m concerned, we’re nearing the end of our first phase together. 2017 will begin the second phase. That’s exciting! We thank God for how He has blessed us, we ask Him to continue guiding us, and to give us the courage to keep stepping out and stepping up, so that we continue to evolve and grow and serve Him and our community better and better each year.