I came across this video and it seemed all too familiar.

(thanks to ChurchLeaders.com for the tip)

A few years ago I did a similar illustration of having someone slap me hard as a part of a service. In each of our gatherings, I invited up someone whom I considered a good friend (but who wasn’t in on what was about to happen). I then shared with everyone how hearing “Jesus died on a cross for you” has become so commonplace we no longer realize some of what it means.

Between our two services, I got slapped hard two different times, with each service having it happen at least twice. My cheek was throbbing by Sunday afternoon.

sermonillustrations

Years later, I’ve heard it was the difference in the faith of one of our (now) key leaders. In his words, “When you let Jon slap you, and then again, I felt the nails going into Jesus’ flesh for the first time in my life.”

Nothing like taking one for the team.

Sometimes we take this too far, though. In one church I was a youth pastor at I had it in mind to have the kids do an altar call while walking through fertilizer. My short-sighted thought at the time was, “It will help them realize all the crap Jesus will walk with them through.” Thankfully, someone much wiser than me interjected and I backed off the idea altogether.

What have been some illustrations like this you’ve seen “work” (or perhaps a few well-intended ideas you’ve watched go south)?

Share your thoughts. Let’s brainstorm and learn from each other.

Weekend Teaching Series:  Brainwashed (series premiere, week 1 of 3)
Sermon in a Sentence: Christians are brainwashed into thinking that living in the gray are (between walking in light and walking in darkness) is OK.

Service Length: 67 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend we kicked off a new series that I am really excited about! I always like a strong series right out of the gate post-Easter and post-You Own the Weekend annual series – Brainwashed is it! This weekend I wanted to introduce the concept of brainwashed in our culture and begin to explain several of the ways that we live brainwashed as Christians. This weekend I choose to talk about walking in the light and walking in darkness – these concepts are familiar to our students since we often teach on God’s Way vs. World’s Way. This was fun though since that felt predicable, I was able to turn a corner and surprise them by challenging them to not live in the gray with one foot into church/Jesus/faith and the rest of their bodies out. I stole an illustration from Doug Fields’ blog last week that was really strong, too – and also opened with a video of a guy who wasn’t brainwashed but certainly lost his mind over Cheesedoodles.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This weekend we rolled out a ton of new stuff! We expanded our volunteers on the weekend and assigned each of them “zones” to work before, during and after services. We had free bagels and cream cheese on Sunday morning between services to “slow down” students into conversation and connections rather than just in and out of church. Over Spring Break we added a few IKEA couches to the hall entering the youth room that got a solid workout. The grow booth now has a gift for 1st time students who let us know they were there. Tons of students involved in every area of the weekend. Summer camp registration opened. Hilarious videos – a Hunger Games promo video for camp, a Spring Break Serve Week highlight video and a parody of spoken word to promote Killball.

Music Playlist: Yours Forever, Freedom is Here, Grace/The Stand, Your Love is Enough

Favorite Moment: There were too many great things to have a favorite this weekend – but the Hunger Game promo video had to probably be in the top spot. I loved SO many things about this weekend, I could go on and on! Oh, and one more thing: I think it is possible to have a GREAT program and a huge emphasis on RELATIONSHIPS. This weekend was another big step to doing both really well for us!

Up next: Brainwashed (week 2 of 3)