Not a Chance!
On the heels of the first December snowfall, Sunday morning’s thermometer read 27°. Snow & black ice battered and threatened families in Dawson and surrounding counties. Some still had no electricity. We half expected a half-empty, chilly sanctuary for this Sunday’s “That Day” performance…
Instead… over 200 people from Gainesville, Cumming, Suwanee, Cleveland and beyond filled the room to around 80% capacity – WHOA! Further, our whole family was SO warmly welcomed by the Set Free Church family. It was amazing! We had heard the Dirt Road Disciples (pictured, left) play before, but they really kicked it into high gear with the worship set, including the 70s classic “Spirit in the Sky”, “Amazing Grace/Chains are Gone”, and “Where I Belong”. Set Free was originally founded as a biker church in Dahlonega, but has grown into a thriving family congregation with a wide outreach.
Great Set Up,
Dressed in a business suit, Dan Matthewson doesn’t exactly “fit in” with the leather jacket, biker boot, and Carhartt wearing crowd. His opening line is a bit curt. After Thursday’s dress rehearsal, the pastor’s son, “Tank” Dunkerly highly recommended no segue between worship and the opening line of the show. Since Pastor Marty Dunkerly (pictured, left) agreed and hadn’t given the church at large a heads-up about the play beforehand, the crowd was perfectly set up for a shock. The potential culture clash and abrupt opening presented a fantastic opportunity to capture and hold the crowd’s undivided attention with the unexpected tale of Dan Matthewson coming to the judgment seat. And, it paid off.
Scott Biddulph, church member and editor-in-chief at Two Drops of Ink, later commented on the surprise opening:
“…to be transparent, at first I thought, ‘Here we go, [Pastor] Marty’s done brought some yuppie speaker into our church’ (laughing), but when he got going, it was such a powerful message.”
Later, he also said,
[That Day] “reminded me that the little things in life, the prayers, taking a moment to love on someone who needs love, to listen to somebody who needs to be heard, to hug somebody that needs a hug, and so many other things that remind me of what Jesus meant when he said, ‘What you do to the least of these, you have done unto me.’ Our father is so loving, merciful, and penetrating with his Holy Spirit. Praise the mighty name of Jesus.”
Another attendee commented:
Lots of things he spoke on hit me hard…balancing my daily routine has been thrown into the pit of hell these last few months and to be honest it has caused many many problems emotionally, physically etc.. I honestly have become so bitter to others it’s overwhelming..I’m just ready to be back normal…” – D.W.
Associate Pastor Sandy Reece (pictured, right)pointed out
“It makes me look back and think ‘there are some places my walk could be tightened up with Jesus’. I mean, even as a pastor… [we all need to keep our] eyes on eternity.”
In the play, a character named Mickey explains the gospel to Dan Matthewson through a thick, iconic New Jersey accent. Ministry professional Casey Sanders from Men Step Up called it “pretty idiot-proofed… the clearest presentation of the gospel I’ve ever heard.” Praise God.
These are just indicative of the reaction this story brings. We were so honored to share this story with Set Free Church and grateful for any chance to help others live every day with that Day in mind. A look at life from the judgment seat is setting people free from the disappointments, disillusionment, and drudgery of living in a Genesis 3 world and resetting their eyes on the eternal glory that awaits us all in His presence!
A Unique Point of View?
As the performer, I have the blessing of being able to see the crowd reaction from the stage, for nearly the entire 75 minutes. People were visibly moved by thoughts of what it will be like to witness our lives as we account for them before Jesus. There were plenty of laughs (even from Bulldog fans, when the “Go, Yackets” line played!), lots of wide eyes and pensive looks, and plenty of heartfelt tears. The menfolk would have you note this: many of the women cried, too! 🙂 Thoughts were provoked, eyes filled, hearts moved, and many came to the altar at the end for prayer.
To God be the glory for it all. (Including the fact that I pinched a nerve in my lower back the night before while lifting a bin of That Day hoodies! God alone sustained me through seventy-five minutes of jarring, unpredictable back pain! Let’s hear it for the healing power of prayer!)
We’re so grateful for the opportunity to share this story with the body of Christ in this part of North Georgia. We look forward to whatever God has next for That Day. If you’d like to help bring That Day to your church or other organization, reach out to us online here.