The Pastor’s Piece
January 30, 2022
A few years ago we noticed that our church sign was getting kind of old and in need of some repairs. It had probably not been updated for about 20 years, other than to add names and change service times occasionally. Our church board thought we might want to put in a new digital sign instead of fixing up the old wood one. After checking with the county on setback requirements and getting a couple of prices, we decided not to do anything for now.
Then came Covid and with Covid came parking lot church. We purchased a radio transmitter and set up a podium outside under a canopy in front of the church and invited people to come and tune in on their radio to hear the preacher. And people started coming. It wasn’t long until our parking lot was full. As spring gave way to summer, and with fall not far off in the distance, we realized things probably weren’t going to change much by winter time. With cold weather inevitably on the way, our board got together and decided we needed an outdoor video wall so we could broadcast our services from inside the church outside to the parking lot. I was not a fan of standing outside in cold weather for extended periods of time.
We revisited the digital sign idea and decided to go with one of those mounted high up on the wall facing the parking lot. It’s a long backstory which I’ve shared here before, but would be happy to share again – anytime. God did a great work among us and made it all happen. Today, the video wall is a vital part of our ministry and a major draw for many people for a lot of different reasons. Some people are physically disabled and unable to move about freely. Some people prefer to be isolated. Some people like to wear their pajamas to church. Some people just like sitting in their cars sipping coffee, eating donuts, and worshiping.
I tell this story again, because this past week I had two encounters with people that had to do with our outside video screen. The first was a gentleman who, after driving by for over 40 years, became curious about our church when he saw the sign. His curiosity got the better of him and one Sunday he decided to stop and check it out. He said he knew when our services started because they were posted on the outside screen. “I never would have stopped,” he said, “if not for that big screen.”
The other encounter was with the company who sold us the outdoor video screen. The company is located in Madison. At the time, we were looking for a company that had experience in this type of technology. After making a few phone calls and traveling around to see other churches that this company had serviced, we decided to go with them. As with anything, availability was an issue and we had to wait several months before the product arrived and could be installed. Finally, in the fall of 2020 the screen was installed and we were in business. We call it our Jumbotron. The people at the company tell us it is the same technology they use at Wrigley Field, Miller Park, Camp Randall Stadium and everywhere else.
We were a little skeptical at first because the screen faces the south. That means it is in direct sunlight all the time. Our concerns were unfounded, as the screen has met all our expectations. As I was telling this story to the new guy at the company, I realized that this video screen had become a central part of our ministry at Martintown Community Church. Looking back, I see God undeniably leading us the whole way. The psalmist declared in Psalms 118:23: “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” We echo that praise.
I had a fun little job thawing water pipes last week. Someone called and said they had cold water but no hot water. I’m not a plumber, but I said I’d come over anyway and have a look – but she should call a real plumber too. My phone said it was 15 below outside. When the real plumber arrived at the house, he said he had 27 below. Either way, it was plenty cold enough. There was no basement under the house. The plumber guessed the problem was a frozen water heater. The water heater had its own little insulated room. As he poked and looked around, he mumbled under his breath that there was nothing he could do. Anticipating we would need heat to thaw the pipes, I had brought my medium sized electric heater along (and an extension cord), that I use to keep extra warm in my office.
I set my heater down in that little room, pointed it at the copper tubing, and plugged it in. The plumber had already left. About a half hour later, we had hot water gushing out of all the faucets. I examined the plumbing around the water heater, didn’t see or hear any leaks or rushing water so I retrieved my heater, rolled up the cord, closed the door to the room and went back home thankful that it was a simple fix without complications.
What I like best about winter is sitting in front of the wood burning insert in our fireplace, watching the flames and feeling the warmth the fire brings. I think in heaven, the temperature is going to be a constant 75 degrees – no ups or downs.
(Kevin Cernek is Lead Pastor of Martintown Community Church in Martintown, Wisconsin)