Rethink Monthly: In your personal life, is there anything that God is speaking to you that is causing you to rethink the way that you do things in your own life?
Jud Wilhite: Yeah, I think the one thing just this last week, I have been really convicted by is that I think my prayers are too small. I have been reading about the Great Awakening in America and just thinking about how the entire city of Philadelphia went out to a field and heard George Whitfield speak. It has happened before, and like how small my prayers are to imagine the entire city of Las Vegas going out in the desert to hear a message about Christ. I have just been trying to expand my thinking so I will tell you how that played out this weekend. I saw something that I have never seen this weekend. It is one of the things I want to talk to you about on the church side. You know what, I’ll wait. As far as this question goes, I think the big challenge that I have wrestled with is my prayers are too small, and our God is soooo much bigger than I give Him credit. It hasn’t sunk into my life enough and I have really been lit up with that personally. I am just trying to expand my vision of what God can do and who He is, and all that He is accomplishing.
RM: That’s cool. So how does that play out then as you lead your community of people there in Las Vegas? What has God been speaking to you for them? How you can rethink they are doing their community?
JW: This weekend we had learned from another couple of churches that we had so many people come to save and had taken the next step to be baptized, where we did a spontaneous baptism moment where I just challenged people to come down and commit to Christ, and commit to be baptized on the spot. I have never done this where I’ve asked people to walk down forward. We kind of have our own approach to reaching people and impacting people. But it was a kind of non-emotive message, it wasn’t highly emotional. It was pretty straight forward teaching about what it means to be a Christian or what it means to be baptized. We had like over 1200 adults walk down front, and walk right outside and jump in cold water in their clothes and just get baptized. There were so many tears and so much emotion. So the way this played out for me is I’m standing backstage and we are all in tears, it wasn’t just about numbers for us, it’s about the people that we love and just in awe at what we were experiencing. This guy said, “I remember when this church was only 600 people in size.” And we were going to baptize more than 600 people this weekend,” and I had a moment, this is the moment where I thought about how big God is, and I said, “Now we are a church of 15,000.” I said, “The day will come when we will baptize 15,000 in a day.” The guy looked at me and his jaw hit the ground. It’s not about the numbers, it’s just that God can do that, you know? I am finally getting my mind around the fact that God can do that if He chose to.
RM: If somebody would have told you that four years ago, you probably would have been blown away. If you see 1200 people baptized in a day would be amazing.
JW: Yeah, I’ve been in shock and awe for the last two days since this weekend. I have never seen anything like it. We follow a practice at Central where if a person is baptized, you know they are allowed to baptize whoever they may lead to faith or whatever, so we have a fairly loose view that it’s not so much about who baptizes, but it is the fact that you do it. So I’ve watched teenagers who have led their parents to faith, baptize them this weekend. I watched that happen again and again and again. I watched teenagers baptize their grandparents. That’s amazing, you know? I’m standing there bawling my eyes out watching this happen, and I am thinking that the next generation is going to lead, and they are going to lead strong, and I don’t care what all the data says, I am watching it right in front of my eyes.
RM: In saying those two things, your own personal life and convictions that’s playing out in your church, is there any passage of Scripture right now that God is using to speak to you to convict you of these things or to move your church forward?
JW: Yes, one of the biggest passages God has been convicting me with is in 1st Corinthians where it talks about that God chose the things that are not to nullify the things that are. I think this is a passage that has been ringing around in my heart and in my life in a pretty significant way over the last several weeks. A lot of it is probably because of all the stuff that we have been seeing. 1st Cor. 1:27-31 where it says God chose the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise, and He chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world as things counted as nothing at all, and use them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. Then for me, I love the final part of the whole message where it says, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.” Because God has done this in such a way that only He can be bragged upon and boasted in, and that has been the message I have been championing in. God is moving. He is moving across the nation, certainly in Las Vegas, a city that most Christians have written off. I get looked down upon for even living in this town, but God will use the things that are not, to nullify the things that are. It is all for His glory and His fame.
RM: And it seems that you are seeing that in action, too. So that is a wonderful thing.
JW: Oh totally! And it is not just about us, that we are so good or talented, or the church is this or that, but it’s not, we are just broken, messed up people in this broken, messed up city, and God is doing a work for His glory. We get to be part of it, and that is just awesome!
RM: Anything else that you would like our readers to know as we close up your portion of the article?
JW: I just think that it is all about God and what He has done for us in Christ, and that is our primary boast. That is who we brag upon. That’s whose fame we are spreading and not our own, and the longer we stay focused on that, the more sure our footing will be.
Jud Wilhite lives with his family in the Las Vegas area where he serves as Senior Pastor of Central Christian Church. Over 15,000 people attend Central’s campuses along with a global community who attend online. Jud is the author of several books including Eyes Wide Open, Uncensored Grace and Deadly Viper Character Assassins with Mike Foster.