Adam Hamilton Lectures Offer Ideas to Spark New Life in Churches and Leaders
As the keynote speaker of the 2011 Texas Annual Conference, Rev. Adam Hamilton addressed the assembly on topics ranging from qualities of good leaders to building teams of clergy and laity who believe in the church’s mission.
“The goal of this is not to do what the Church of the Resurrection is doing,” Hamilton said at the start of the last of three lectures, “but to look to see how it might inspire you to do what God is calling you to do.” One thing God calls all to do is to invite others to a life of faith. Hamilton tasked church leaders with providing tools to help members invite others to church and to ensure that there are greeters and signage that help guests feel welcome.
Hospitality goes a long way, and could be as simple as allowing another to sit in your tradition pew. At Church of the Resurrection, there are about 18 Christmas Services, beginning several days before the holiday. In order to accommodate the 23,000 people who attended, members were asked to come on “Christmas Eve Eve Eve,” he said, or, to worship earlier in the day on “Christmas Eve Eve.” “Thank God the culture still says go to church on Christmas Eve,” Hamilton said. “We can bemoan the ‘Christmas and Easter Christians,’ or we can see this as our opportunity.
“What kind of people give up their seat at preferred worship time?” Hamilton later asked. “People who believe in the mission…The church is the body of Christ in world… God sends the church; God doesn’t often send angels or just drop manna over heaven.” Because God sends the church, community involvement near and far from home has been pivotal in helping people grow in discipleship. Hamilton said more than 8,000 United Methodist Churches used the book 24 Hours That Changed the World in the fall of 2010.
One way his congregation chose to change the world is to donate its entire Christmas Eve offerings to charity. That year, the offering was $620,000; previously, it was about $300,000. Half of the money benefitted children in the Kansas city area and the other half went to build clean water wells in Malawi, Africa. “Our offering doubled when we decided to give it all away,” he said. “It’s changed our congregation.” What if all 8,000 churches who studied the book donated their Christmas Eve offerings? Hamilton posited that more than $50 million would be generated to change the world. “The church is not about us. The church was Jesus’ idea. Christ came with a mission and it wasn’t to make the saved comfortable. It was to save, redeem the world.”
Another goal of the local church should be to meet the unmet needs of the community at-large. A church’s success at doing this can best be measured by people outside the church. “What are people saying about your congregation?” Hamilton asked. “Five years from now what do you want them to say? ‘Church of the Resurrection…that’s that big church vs. the church that cares for the city,’ or, ‘I know some of the people, they are the real deal – they’re always looking for ways to help and serve people.’”
Offering a “good product” is chief among the ways churches can serve. The worship experience, sermons, learning tools and program for follow-up all are elements of the church’s product. In addition to inviting people to church, the pastor encouraged the church to invite themselves over to the homes of visitors. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock,” he laughingly said, adding that when Jesus invited himself over to Zaccheus’ home, the tax collector was radically changed and became extravagantly generous – giving away half of his treasures. In his first years of ministry, Hamilton said he “invited himself over” for front porch visits with 400 guests. Of that number, 399 allowed him to visit and 398 joined the church. “People don’t come to faith because of your excellent theological interpretation,” Hamilton said. “Most people come to faith in Christ because someone cared enough to learn their name – you embody the love of Jesus Christ and people.”
Watch Video of Hamilton's Presentations online