Stories from the Roller Coaster: Why We Clap
Enjoy a sample today from Stories from the Roller Coaster. Today’s excerpt, “Why We Clap,” comes from the introduction. I hope it gives you some clarity as to why I felt this book was so important that it had to be written. Read it with a mind toward your own stories that may have gone untold for too long.
“Why We Clap”
My family was spending a long weekend with my sister Lu Ann and her family in Mobile a few years ago. We had attended their church before, and I was very interested in what was billed as a “casual and contemporary” service with its own pastor and separate on-campus venue. My sister’s family had never attended NewSong but agreed to go with us so that we could check it out that day.
I was somewhat disappointed when Pastor Jim Kinder announced that the Sunday on which we attended was a ten-year anniversary celebration of NewSong. He began to explain what this on-site satellite was all about and asked those who had been attending for the entire ten years to identify themselves. Few responded. For the ones who had come later in the decade, he defined what the original vision for NewSong had been. Then, in a defining moment for me, he said that what we saw before us that day had not always been that way. He began to speak of decisions made along the way, changes that had been made and the reasons for them, and the process by which the current ministry had adapted to changing needs in the church and in the community.
At one point early in this celebration message, Jim asked each of us to think back to what we were doing ten years earlier. He asked us to consider where we were in our faith walks. I followed along, remembering some major milestones in my journey with the Lord that had taken place during that time span. My mind also began to wander back over the previous decade for my two older children, then in their mid-teens. I thought about their experience in our church and the process that had made our services what they were at that time. Did they even have a clue as to the “why” behind the “what” of our own church’s methodology?
On the way to the car after church in Mobile that morning, I asked my daughter a simple question: “Do you know why we clap after every song at our church?”
Ashton responded that she wasn’t sure; she guessed maybe to show appreciation for the singers and musicians and the gifts God had given them. I was saddened that a generation had risen up in our church that did not know the answer to that question. The Lord had done a remarkable work in our church in 1994, and it changed the way that worship to this very day. Though the stories of the 1994 revival were repeated often in the decade or so following that work of God, time passed and people who were there moved on. Before long, those of us who had been there in 1994 were left to wonder if the new folks had any idea about what they had missed. My daughter’s response to my question gave me my answer…at least in my family.
Months later, Ashton came home from a student service and told us an amazing story from the same era that her student pastor had told that day. The story goes that a young mother of two was having some issues with her eyes; in fact, her doctor later told her that he believed the condition would have taken her sight at a young age. Her church small group, though, felt strongly that this was something the Lord would have them join together in prayer against. They did, and the Lord responded by saving the young mother’s sight. Her doctor told her that he believed they had seen a miracle.
Ashton was awestruck by the story, repeating it to Loretta when we arrived home that afternoon. Loretta listened, then responded gently, “Sweetie, that was me.”
I felt conviction to the core of my being. How could Ashton not know that story? One of the greatest works of God in our lives, and our own daughter didn’t know. This just should not be.
About Al Ainsworth
Al Ainsworth is a values storyteller. He works with individuals, businesses, churches, and other organizations to pass along their values through the stories they tell…and re-tell. Al is the author of Lines in the Gravel (and 52 Other Re-Told Childhood Tales), Stories from the Roller Coaster (of a Faith Life), and Coach Dave: Season One. Subscribe to his email list for more values storying.