For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither anything hid, that shall not be known and come abroad. – Luke 8:17
I honestly do not want my Wednesday Morning Devotional to become about trying to start a church in Salem. I’ve been writing these things for over a decade and now, suddenly, the number of clicks is no longer in the hundreds, but in the thousands. I don’t think it is necessarily for good reasons. After this week, I hope it gets more back to what it was before I announced that I was starting a church service. Having said that, an old-fashioned church divisiveness has reared its ugly head in my hometown of Salem, South Carolina once again. I’m going to let you in on everything that I know . . . I’ve got nothing to hide. If you want to ask me anything . . . I’ll tell you the truth.
- On December 4th, I wrote a proposal to Eagle’s Nest Arts Center asking them to allow me to start a church service on Sunday afternoons at 4:00 pm in the auditorium. The committee met on December 5th, heard my proposal, and rejected it.
- The church service happened anyway in the parking lot of ENAC. There were 30 people, we had a great time of worship, Bible study, and prayer. We anointed the ground with oil, figuratively planted a spiritual seed, and asked God to grow it. I prayed for individual lives to be changed, and for the community. We will have the next service this Sunday (January 8) . . . same time, same place.
- On January 2nd, I personally attended the ENAC committee meeting. I presented them with $212 dollars that we took up in an offering to bless them. I asked them to reconsider my proposal. A community member point-blank asked, “What was the reason for the ‘no.’” There was about 30 seconds of super uncomfortable silence, and we were told that the reasons did not have to be told to the community (at least, that’s what I got from it).
- The committee went into Executive Session, which meant we all had to leave so they could re-vote. Later that night, a committee member told me that the vote went the same. I still cannot use the auditorium for my little church services.
- Now, people are talking . . . in Salem, and on social media. People want to know why they would shoot down a proposal such as mine. Some are defending me, and others are saying I deserve to be told “no” because I play music in “beer joints.”
- Yes, I play music at breweries and wine bars. I think it is a great way for me to connect with people and have conversations. Nothing has caused people to trash me and my reputation more than the decision to do this. I always pray that God opens the door for conversations to steer towards Him. I would say about 1 out of 3 or 4 times that I play, the Lord allows a wonderful conversation to happen. I have prayed with depressed people, ignited praise and worship, and had people tell me about special memories brought back from when they used to go to church. All this simply by playing spiritual songs and just talking to people that many church people condemn and won’t give a chance.
- I really want Eagles Nest Church to happen. I’m asking God to make a way, but in no way do I want to harass or coerce my way in. God can do anything He wants. If He sees fit to let me preach in that building, He will make a way.
All I ask from you guys is to simply pray. Pray that somehow all these church people who claim to know God will somehow figure out how to get along before we enter eternity. He made us all different for a reason. If each one of us would just honor Him to the best of our ability and show Him to our circle of influence, I know it would change our world. At the very least, it will change the teeny tiny little community of Salem, SC.
Lord, please pour out Your Spirit on all who would read this today. Pour out Your Spirit on the little community of Salem. Work in the lives of the people who say they know You, and work in the lives of the people who couldn’t care less. In Your time, will You please make a way for me to honor You in that little auditorium that I first walked in when I was five years old. I love the town, I love You, and I ask that You make a way . . . In Jesus Name. Send revival Lord! Amen!