This Friday, our church will host its fifth installment of Acts of God. It’s a talent show featuring our children, teens, and youth leaders. Some of the acts display real talent—such as playing the piano, singing, and dancing—the kinds of things you might see on America’s Got Talent. Other acts do not necessarily bring the word “talent” to mind—they might be more reminiscent of The Gong Show.
Acts of God began as part of our church’s stewardship campaign. It was a way of thanking our congregation for its generous support of children’s and youth ministries. The importance of the Next Generation is built into the DNA of our church in a profound way, as evidenced by the percentage of our budget, building and staff that is given to kids and teenagers. Our church is deeply dedicated to the Next Generation. We have somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 kids in our church. I consider myself enormously blessed to be the youth pastor of such a future-minded community of faith.
Since our initial event five years ago, Acts of God has taken on a life of its own. It’s no longer tied to a stewardship campaign. It has become valuable for its own sake. It’s a fundraiser of sorts--we do charge for tickets, and the proceeds benefit our youth ministry trips—but that’s really not the reason we do it either. The amount of money we make does not justify the amount of work it takes to pull it off. Instead, there are other, more important, reasons we continue to do Acts of God. Here are some reasons why I think Acts of God is important.
Acts of God builds community among in our church. The children and youth ministry staffs work together to make the event happen. Grandparents, parents, and other adults get to see the kids of our church having fun together. The students gather with their peers and youth leaders to create the skits, build memories, and carry out their performances. Acts of God is intentionally inter-generational, something our kids need and our society often forsakes. I’ve had parents get teary-eyed telling me how much they enjoy seeing the church come together for Acts of God.
One of the Core Essentials of our youth ministry is, “Students Are Celebrated.” Acts of God provides an opportunity for students to shine. They get to display their talents and have their moment in the spotlight. Every kid loves to hear, “Wow! That was really great!” Some of them are natural hams and high level performers, while others are still learning and need encouragement to get out of their shell. Who knows? Perhaps one Friday night in April will propel a young person to practice harder and find their calling in some fashion.
For much of the world, Christianity doesn’t seem like much fun, and Christians don’t seem like fun people. “Joviality” is not often associated with the Christian life. We probably have ourselves to blame for that. Acts of God is a jovial event. It has enough laughs to overcome a lot of misconceptions about the church--lip sync battles, singing chickens, pillowheaded dancers, freshmen girls sharing their interior thoughts, adults reprising their 80s selves with Bon Jovi videos. Some of the moments over the years were so ridiculous that they have become the stuff of legend. Yoga pants, anyone?
I have to confess, part of the reason we do Acts of God is because I personally love Acts of God. It’s the intersection of many of my own gifts – creativity, writing, performing, community-building. I love being Jimmy Fallon for a night, acting as the MC with one of my students, dressing up, writing clever jokes, encouraging others to get a little silly, and being silly myself. I love to see the kids and youth leaders work together to pull off a complicated show. I love to hear people talk about it afterwards. The event is a lot of work, but it’s my sweet spot and something I was created to do. I find fulfillment in helping create Acts of God as a gift to the church.
So those are my reasons for the existence of Acts of God. I hope you’ll come. You’ll be glad you did. Someone once told me, “Take the gospel seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously.” I’d say we accomplish that with Acts of God, where family meets celebration meets laughter meets creativity.
And I get to wear Yoga pants.
Acts of God 5 is this Friday, April 15, in our church auditorium. Showtime is 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person / $25 per family, and can be purchased in the church office or at the door. There is dessert and coffee, and this year we are adding a Fine Arts display of works by our students.