Giving Them a Fighting Chance


And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, and to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Acts 2:42 A few years ago, Jerker Asterlund received the Church of Sweden's prestigious "Innovator of the Year" award.

The award came his way because, in 2008, he was asked to perform a wedding at a car show. The couple went through counseling and everything was just fine. But then, afterwards, another couple came up to Asterlund and said, "We'd like to be hitched too, if you don't mind."

Well, Asterlund did mind. He told them, "That's not how it works. You have to be prepared."

Most preachers I know would feel the same way, but not Asterlund. Afterwards he began to think, "It's not the couples, it's the church which isn't prepared." Realizing there were a lot of other couples who also wanted to be married with minimum effort, Asterlund, with the help of nine other preachers, offered drive-in weddings at the following year's car show.

This is how it works: before a couple gets their 20-minute ceremony, which includes two hymns and a song of their choice, they receive a 20-minute talk. That's it.

And thus, the "drop-in wedding" was invented.

Initially, Church leaders frowned at the idea, but eventually they became accepting. In fact, things have progressed to the point in time where every major Swedish city and many smaller towns are offering "Drop-in Weddings" and "Drop-in Baptisms."

Asterlund says there are a number of advantages to this procedure:

1. You get to the important stuff right away.

2. A quickie wedding or Baptism is a way to get people back into the church.

Now at the risk of being called a "closed-minded fuddy-duddy," I have to say the practice causes me problems. And, yes, I do remember how Philip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch after a relatively short conversation, and Paul did the same for the household of the jailer at Philippi. God blessed these men and their new disciples, and for that I am most glad.

Still, these changes cause me problems. No, I can't point to a chapter and verse in Scripture which says, "Thou shalt have pre-marital counseling" or a passage in the Book of Concord that demands parents have -- or desire to have -- a relationship with the Savior, if they are to have their children brought into the family of faith.

But and this is a big exception, I can find many passages which tell us the Lord doesn't want to be minimized or moved down the list of our priorities. It doesn't make any difference if it comes from the Old Testament or the New, the passage, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength" remains true (see Deuteronomy 6:5 and Luke 10:27).

Believing that I would rather take the time to give these couples and these children a fighting chance in a world where their Savior is maligned and His followers are criticized. I would like to know that the Savior is important to them, just as I know they are important to Jesus who spent His entire life saving them.

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, Your Son spent His entire life seeking and saving the lost. Grant that His followers may give themselves, their time, their talents, and their treasures to Him who has given them eternal life. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Pastor Ken Klaus Lutheran Hour Ministries All rights reserved; not to be duplicated without permission.

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