Welp, it finally happened. On Saturday a few of us traveled down to the cities, or Minneapolis/St. Paul, to visit St. Mary’s Basilica, a few of the Franciscan Sisters who live downtown, and yes, Bethlehem Baptist, where John Piper is the pastor for preaching and vision.

A very ordinary church building, which looked weird after we'd visited St. Mary's Basilica.

A very ordinary church building, which looked weird after we'd visited St. Mary's Basilica.

I’m a gigantic fan of Pastor John. How many books of his have I read??

Okay, maybe just one or two. But mostly that’s because his stuff often comes with walloping convictions and so I find his writing hard to digest. I need coffee and at least two different colored highlighters every time I sit down with Don’t Waste Your Life or likewise.

But regardless of all that, his sincerity and passion for all things that glorify God has influenced me and my ideology more than anyone else.

The whole day leading up to last night’s service, I felt like a nervous groupie about to go backstage or something. The way my friends and I were snapping photos of the place, and Pastor John, you’d think we were at a rock concert, and he was John Bon Jovi. But squeal and photograph we did, and we were delighted.

He spoke on broken-hearted boldness from Micah 7, and it was beautiful and as always, convicting. I was so refreshed just listening to him. But the most amazing part? The ordinariness of it all. Bethlehem is extremely simple and plain, considering Pastor John’s popularity. I don’t mean that in a belittling way. We had just come from St. Mary’s Basilica, one of the most ornate cathedrals I’ve ever seen, so the simplicity of this church seemed overwhelming. And he himself is a simple, humble, albeit passionate man, the pastor for this community of Christians. There doesn’t seem to be any pretense between himself and the congregation, he isn’t a celebrity, the whole group doesn’t flock to him for photos or autographs (except for the four of us), and above all, Bethlehem isn’t his church, thought it’s tempting to say it.

I certainly wasn’t expected to be bombarded with the plainness, so to speak, and it was nice to experience that. A breath of fresh air. I suppose I idolize him a little bit and so I’m glad for God helping me to see that Pastor John is just another ordinary dude, so to speak.

However as I was humbled by all of this, I couldn’t help but be like a giddy groupie the whole time, and I was anxious to meet or take my picture with him. But every time we looked over, he was busy. Our clever, though sketchy, solution was take a photograph by the pews with Piper in the background. It worked pretty well, although we certainly felt weird doing it and got a fair share of odd looks.

Me, and JP in the background.

Here was Stephen's clever solution. JP is praying over a family in the background. I think this is hilarious!

No matter though, because right after this he was freed up and we got to meet him. We introduced ourselves and thanked him for his sermon, told him we were volunteers and he laughed and said “You volunteer for a living?!” Then he graciously let us take a photo with him.