1,300 volunteers gathering for a early morning rally (courtesy Mark Rothrock)

1,300 volunteers gathering for a early morning rally (courtesy Mark Rothrock)

Around our offices, the buzz is still going about Church At The Ballpark. Yes, yes, I know that it’s now out of sight, out of mind, and many of you are moving on to bigger and better things, like the new iPhone (now in living TechniColor®).

But there are so many more stories emerging: stories of life change, stories of wow moments, stories of heroic volunteers. And it’s those volunteers I want to highlight for a moment this morning.

I’m still processing the fact that we had over 1,300 volunteers who served. 1,300 people. That’s more than we had in our church ten years ago. And these 1,300 didn’t just serve, they served with complete passion. They served because they got to, not because they were guilted to It was an amazing, humbling thing to see hundreds lined up at 7:30 AM, waiting in an incredibly long registration line, just so they could prepare to serve thousands who would soon arrive.

I think of my friend Brad Caldwell from our West Club Campus, who was on vacation in Baltimore, but woke up his wife and four year old son at 3 AM so they could get back in time for him to serve as a baptism counselor.

Or Tom Lepkowski. Tom and his wife Barb serve faithfully and tirelessly every single week on our Brier Creek parking team, so he was a natural fit to lead the charge on the streets of downtown Durham. Shortly after Highway 147 was backed up for miles with people waiting to get off the exit, shortly after the Durham PD were just scratching their heads that a “church event” had gone this far over their expectations, shortly after we filled all three planned garages and then went on to fill one and a half more, someone asked Tom, “Things got crazy out there, huh?” Tom’s simple reply was accompanied by a wide smile and a, “Yeah. Crazy GOOD!”

Amy Bell & Cynthia Mann, from our North Durham and Summit en Espanol campuses, respectively, were the team leads for our First Time Guest tents. A wi-fi fiasco neutralized our high-tech plan for registering guests, but Amy and Cynthia simply changed course, reworked the plan on the fly, and made the experience seamless for more than 500 households who showed up for the first time.

Anisa Scott from Brier Creek served in multiple areas, but perhaps the most important was our staging room that she set up on Saturday. It made all of the Sunday last minute stuff about as organized as it possibly could be.

TJ Fenwick (North Raleigh Campus) was another who seemed to be everywhere the entire weekend. He just spotted a need and made sure it was taken care of, from delegating tasks to other volunteers to managing a trash-emptying system that left the park neater than we found it.

I think of the countless young moms who showed up extra early with babies on their hips and infants in strollers, the people who’d worked 40 and 50 and 60 hours that week, yet spent their weekend serving beyond themselves, and the more “seasoned” volunteers who were not in the health to stand in the heat and serve, yet defied us to tell them otherwise.

There are dozens more stories I’ve heard and I’m sure hundreds more to be told, but these are just a few. In short, our volunteers made sure that the entire weekend was set up to be a “Wow” experience. When things went well, they celebrated. When lines got long or systems got tweaked or plans went crazy, they showed patience and grace and ingenuity to reengineer as we went.

I’m honored to serve with such a talented force of people. And the Summit is honored to have their giftings on the front lines. So once again, would you join me in thanking them? What volunteer hero stories did you see this weekend? Please comment below.