“Eheh, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh, heeah. Wheez. Squeal. Eeeeeyah, heh, heh, heh, heh. Eeeeya, ha, ha, heh, heh, hee. Aheeeeeeha, ha, gafaw, haw, haw.
I am guessing that few readers found themselves chuckling as they read the above paragraph. But this is a rough transcription of the first few minutes of a baby video that has gone viral. Many folks must find it very funny because it has been viewed over 11 million times on Youtube. But, reading the script was probably not enough. I guess you had to be there.
We have all shared experiences with friends and family only to realize part way through our sharing that the retelling of the story was not conveying the things that made it powerful or funny to us. So, we likely ended our account with: “I guess you had to be there.”
The same is true of powerful God-experiences. If you have never been in a church service where God’s Spirit sweeps through the congregation in a tangible way or God speaks through “The Gifts of the Spirit,” then you owe it to yourself to change that. Because, it is not enough to read about it or even watch video clips – you have to be there.
The most powerful and impacting experiences of my life have been in church. As a child I heard about the miracles done by Jesus 2000 years ago, but it was quite another thing to see the lame walk or blind eyes opened in real time. It was one thing to read about the Day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2, or see a video of people speaking in tongues, but was far different to be in room full of people who were experiencing what Mary, Peter and John experienced in the first century. Words just can’t convey the experience - you had to be there.
Now days we can read restaurant reviews online, but there is nothing like feeling the atmosphere of a restaurant and tasting the food for yourself. In my experience, reviews are often much different than what I encounter upon a real-time visit. Not all restaurants are equal. Sometimes patrons don’t appreciate the things I appreciate.
The same is true of churches. Not all churches are equal. Not all reviews are accurate. What if God has a great new experience for you that rivals the experiences recorded in the Bible? What if conversion is as good as people say it is? What if God wants to use a worship experience with other believers to bless you the way you have been praying for him to do for years? It will probably take more than reading about it or hearing about it – you have to be there.
Most people will risk wasting a few hours or a few bucks to try a new restaurant, a new show or a new theme park. Some will even risk their lives to experience a rush or a high. People have been known to risk everything to find love or joy or peace. Church has the potential to do much more for you with very little risk. Church is usually free and only takes a few hours of your time. Maybe you’ve tried a church or two before, but the next one you try might be the one that makes all the difference. You will never know until you try. Who knows, you may leave with a story that has to be retold with the final qualifying statement: “I guess you had to be there.”