Mark Batterson shares thoughts on being "shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves"
Mark Batterson speaks on Matthew 10 during the Wednesday afternoon session. | Olivia Blinn/THE CHIMES
As the lights flickered down for the opening section of the video that opened the next segment of Torrey Conference, watching the on-screen congregation passing their popcorn-bucket offering plate, I felt a sense of expectation and wonderment, as I’d been expecting a speaker to immediately come to the stage. As it turns out, this was one of the main points. A church that functions in a movie theater? Sure sounds like a crazy idea to me – maybe some would say sacrilegious. But then, people used to say that about having a piano in the church worship service.
Mark Batterson, lead pastor of the National Community Church in Washington, D.C., spoke in the afternoon session about his thoughts on what we as Christians should be doing for God in today’s world. He’d started working for God early. An effort was made to establish his first church while he was still in seminary, but an unseasonable blizzard combined with a bit of overconfidence combined to make for deserted pews in the first service. In his own words, “You may think you’re leading, but if no one is following, you’re just taking a walk!”
After thinking long and hard about what God wanted him to be doing, he realized that maybe there was a different way he could go about it. That thought was the inception of the “movie theater church” idea, which leads to his point today: The gospel teaches us to proclaim the good news, and that we should be far more bold than we are while doing so. Using Matthew 10, he illustrated that we should be constantly on the lookout for new and different ways to present the gospel, using “new wineskins,” as it were, to catch people’s attention and bring them into the fold. We have so much technology in the world today that is ready and available to help us reach unbelievers, from social media like Facebook and Twitter to mass media stations to more personal ways like cell phones and the like.
The disciples of the old days died for Christ, taking literally his commands that we should be as sheep among wolves. While this doesn’t mean, Batterson stated, that we immediately go out among the headhunters, it most certainly does mean that we need to remember to die to self, putting the needs of others — both spiritual and physical — before our own.
He concluded his message with the caveat that while Jesus told us we should be as wise as snakes, we should also be as innocent as doves – we should never forget the love of Christ while trying to spread His light.