At fifteen years old, going to church wasn’t exactly on the top of my to-do list. That is, until I caught a glimpse of how I could get involved.
In my mid-teens, my small-town life consisted of skating by in high school and spending most of my free time on dial-up internet. All in all, I had a pretty good life, but everything was centered around myself. Growing up, I had visited church every once in awhile, but it had always put me to sleep. I knew that I had a void in my life, but didn’t expect to find any answers in God. One weekend in my freshman year of high school, my mom started attending a new church right down the street from our house. She loved it and quickly got involved in just about every program that she could. It was a small church, but it had a big heart and wasn’t afraid to venture outside the ordinary to reach people. Nevertheless, it still wasn’t really my style to spend part of my weekend at church.
After a few months of denying her requests for me to attend, I decided to appease her by trying out a service. I remember nervously stepping through those doors into what turned out to be a warm, inviting environment with “normal people” all around. (That was a big concern of mine up until that point.) I remember encountering some of the most genuine, loving people on that day. Another thing that really stood out to me was their music. It was a big deal for me to hear an early Hillsong setlist when I had only heard hymns sung in church before. Truly this was a forward-moving place, I thought. It was there that I can honestly say that I opened my heart and connected with God in a real way for the very first time.
A few weeks into attending this new church, I walked in on a Sunday morning to see that a new area had been added to the back of the sanctuary: a media booth. It was filled with a hand-me-down HP computer and a massive monitor that nearly took up the entire desk. I loved computers, so it immediately caught my eye and I couldn’t wait for service to begin to see how it would be used. As I think back, the PowerPoint lyrics and cheap clipart that I saw that day were ugly as sin, but all I could see were possibilities. After service, I spoke with the volunteer who ran everything and he was quick to get me involved. As much as I would like to tell you that he was a young, cutting-edge, tech guy who showed me all of the tricks of the trade…that’s just not true. Quite the opposite, he was an older man who had retired from HP about 20 years before and often got quite grumpy. But, he took a chance on me and it made a big difference in my life.
In what I know now as God’s perfect timing, it just so happened that during this same season I was taking a class on Powerpoint at my school. There was even a guy from my new youth group in class with me. Together, we dreamed of all that we could do with the projector at church and often created projects in class centered around it. During the rest of my high school years, I spent several days a week in that media booth after school where we grew it from an old HP with PowerPoint to a new computer with MediaShout. Our budget was always really small, so there were many times that I built computers to get the job done and even spent my own money to purchase media. It all sounds small now, but those were some of my most exciting times serving the Church. After experiencing the crowd’s response when I first showed That’s My King
on a Sunday morning, I knew that Church Media was a big part of what God was calling me to do with my life.
I went through many seasons in my young faith journey, but my commitment to volunteering kept me coming back to church even when I didn’t feel like it. It even gave me hope in rough patches where I struggled with depression and thoughts of suicide. Looking back, I wouldn’t be where I am today without Church Media being in my life. Because I was simply given a chance to get involved, I grew and stayed on God’s path for my life and went on to go into full-time ministry. I had experienced the Gospel for myself in a big way and I learned that, through Church Media, I could help others experience it, too.
So, to those who are in charge of the media in your churches, I encourage you to reach out and take chances on people. You never know whose life you might forever change. To those who are just getting involved, keep at it. I learned so much in those early days about how my volunteering could make a difference in the lives of my congregation. You might have a shoestring budget like we did, but you can do incredible things with enough determination. As we all work together to spread the message of Christ, I know we can truly make an impact on this world and each other.