There haven't been any baseball players suiting up in Pensacola's Blue Wahoos Stadium lately. But come Easter Sunday, there'll be one team on the field: the leaders of Marcus Pointe Baptist Church. The stands will be empty, Pastor Gordon Godfrey says. But don't be fooled. The entire city will be watching.
Usually when a church goes from 5,000 people at a service to zero, it's nothing to celebrate. But for the congregation of Marcus Pointe, this year's Sonrise service might just end up in the record books. Not only, Pastor Gordon said, did several local TV stations decide to broadcast the service, but a country music station is also airing the audio. That, he told me, combined with YouTube, Roku, and the church website could make it their biggest Easter yet. "We're probably going to get way more coverage than ever before. I think it'll be a huge crowd for this one."
"Before," he explained, "we were dependent on the number of people who could come to the stadium... about 5,000, and we filled it up. But now, with this opportunity that God has blessed us with, we're going to be able to expand our boundaries and enlarge our tent. And we feel like... thousands of people all over the country will be able to see it this time."
A lot of pastors would've been tempted to say, "Oh, we can't do it, because we aren't going to have a crowd. Nobody can gather. Let's just cancel it." Not this church. They decided to meet the challenge head-on and continue to minister. If this is what they have to work with -- an empty stadium -- then they decided to use it and pray that God blesses it. And so far, He has -- above anything they could've hoped or imagined. Look at the doors that are opening for Pastor Gordon's message to go out, all because he was faithful!
This Resurrection Sunday, take a page out of Marcus Pointe and be creative with what you have. For ideas that go beyond this weekend for outreach and service, check out FRC.org/church. Or, to tune in and see the Blue Wahoos "Sonrise" for yourself, visit Pastor Gordon's event website.