Greedy, Grumpy Scrooge Inspires Next Steps of Faith

Scooge with Tiny Tim's family

Scrooge with Tiny Tim’s family (click to enlarge)

From Scrooge

From Scrooge

Carolyn Schermbeck, Director of Communications and Outreach, Mainstreet Church (Walbridge, Ohio)

Dinner theaters are not new to Mainstreet Church. They have become a tradition, with the first production taking place in 1997. In the early years, these Broadway-style musicals were presented at our 705 Campus. Guests enjoyed warm hospitality and an inviting atmosphere from the moment they arrived. A catered dinner was served in the gymnasium and the production took place in the sanctuary. Approximately 225 people attended a single performance with typically three shows offered.

As you may expect, 15 years later, a few things have changed. Today, God has blessed us with a larger facility and the ability to provide this entertaining Christmas outreach for up to 360 people at a time. In true dinner theatre fashion, the dinner and show now all take place in our auditorium.

This year we were privileged to host well over 1600 people in one weekend. Over time we’ve experienced changes in cast members, directors, leaders, stage size, the pre-show experience in the lobby, number of shows, ticket prices, and more. Each year we find ourselves called to stretch a little outside the same old margins. Each time we do, God blesses the efforts beyond our imagination. This year was no different.

Tickets for the 2012 production, “Scrooge – The Carol With An Attitude,” went on sale in mid-October as anticipated, with a bit of a twist. The first week tickets were available, you could only purchase a seat for someone else. More specifically, you could only purchase for someone you did not know. Tickets would be given to individuals from local partner organizations. The invitation had already been made to come and enjoy an evening of entertainment, interwoven with the message of the Gospel. Our goal was simply to sell 100 tickets.

The idea was well received, and through the generous spirit of others, that goal was easily exceeded. There was great anticipation in the air from this moment forward. This simple change served as a powerful reminder of why we put so much time, effort, and resources into this ministry – to share the hope of Christmas with those outside our walls. This is one thing that has never changed!

During the month of November, a great deal of prayer took place for the many aspects of the dinner theatre, including those who held the first 100 tickets. We were sensitive to the fact that for a number of these guests, Christmas may not have been something they were looking forward to this year. Most were in the midst of an overwhelmingly difficult part of their life journey. Many were enduring hardships like broken relationships, homelessness, or battles to overcome addictions. Some were stretched by financial burdens, and others were not strangers to wondering where the next meal would come from. Our prayer for them was that through the dinner theatre, they would experience the love of Christ and the hope he provides for each one of us, no matter where they found themselves at that moment.

God is good! Lives were impacted and seeds were planted with people who may have never crossed our path otherwise. Individuals came as curious guests, wondering what this evening at church would be like. Through the grace of God, a few of them departed that night as new friends. We fully realize that we may never have an opportunity to interact with many of their life journeys in the future. Yet we celebrate the moment God gave us to minister to them. Here are a few of the written notes that followed:

“Thank you seems insufficient to express how we feel about all you and your congregation have done for us. ‘Scrooge’ was amazing and many of the ladies have never experienced anything like it. God bless all of you for taking us under your wings.”

“Please tell all of the people involved that their efforts, their kindness, and their performance changed the lives of these people.”

“I shed a tear at the beginning of the play. I was wondering what I did to deserve such a wonderful blessing. When the pastor appeared in the middle of the room 20 minutes before the play was over, he asked us to open our hearts and accept the gift of God. At that very moment I knew that I was blessed to have a wonderful friend in my life…someone who knows me for who I truly am unconditionally. No drugs in my body, I didn’t have to give anything up. Just me. So I am grateful for this wonderful holiday memory. I will cherish it for a lifetime.”

“Thank you. That was really nice of you, and it felt nice to have someone do something nice for me. It makes recovery worth it.”

“Thank you for giving me a chance to live again and be happy, and also for the wonderful Christmas gift.”

“It made me see my life in a whole different way. I want Him in my life. I feel like I can be a different person.”

“I have come to terms that I am powerless over my addiction, and I’m ready to have a relationship with Jesus.”

“I finally see God can lead me to a happy and new beginning drug-free.”

“The story had a great message and allowed me to take a look at my life and how I’m living today. There’s a better life with God in my life.”

This outreach effort is just one of so many things to celebrate as a result of this year’s dinner theatre. We’ve seen new families, who attended “Scrooge” begin to join us on Sunday. The comments, prayer requests, and next steps shared with us after each performance are by themselves a huge praise.

We experienced an overwhelming turnout of over 300 amazing volunteers who went above and beyond expectations to make it all come together. Some of these volunteers were brand new and some were long time, faithful volunteers. In them we witnessed growth, the forming of new relationships, and next steps being taken as they served together for months. We are truly blessed to see Him touch and transform lives.

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