In my recent post, Get The Word Out, some of my friends commented, detecting some concern I had for a recent low attendance Sunday at The Well.
Yes, I was concerned.
The Well, when it was only 5 Sundays old, experienced a Sunday that was about half the attendance of the first Sunday. I was exhorted to be patient. Another was hopeful of a revival. Frankly, I didn’t, and still don’t know, what to expect. But what I was looking for was some indication that God’s favour was upon us with this new ministry. More personally, I was looking for some indication that God was pleased with me. My greatest fear as a Christian, and as a pastor, is being out of step with the plans of The Almighty.
This past weekend, God overwhelmed me with His grace. Mercifully, God intervened powerfully and has allayed many of my worries and insecurities.
It began on Friday evening when I conducted a memorial service for a dear member of our congregation who had recently passed away. The reception was coming to a close and so I began to make my way back upstairs when I was stopped by one of the sons of our member who had died. He pulled me aside and immediately said, “I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but I don’t think much of ministers.”
I thought to myself, “Oh no, what do I do here? How do I respond to that?”
As these questions swirled in my head, enough time must have passed that he continued, “And I don’t think much of religion.”
0 for 2.
What followed I hope I never forget: “I don’t think much of ministers and I don’t think much of religion, but listening to you tonight is causing me to rethink both of those things.”
I hope my facial expression didn’t totally give away the “WOW!” exclamation felt in my heart.
Whether at a wedding, a funeral, or a Sunday morning service, I suspect many pastors wonder if what they are saying makes any difference. Most of the time I’m left to guess, and speculate about, the impact being achieved. I’m so grateful that the Lord didn’t make me have to guess following that Friday evening service. My heart was greatly encouraged, and for that, I am immensely thankful.
Then along came Sunday. After experiencing low attendance at The Well the week before, I felt myself lowering my expectations for Thanksgiving Sunday. I knew that about a half dozen families of The Well would be away (those families amounted to almost 30 people). Thinking that this might be the lowest attendance yet, I only set up about 70% of the seats. Well, I was practically giddy when Sunday morning came and I had some of our hosts asking if we should roll in some more chairs—we were at 100% capacity! (with 70% seating).
The Lord was not obligated to accommodate my fragile expectations, but mercifully He did. I was looking for some small indication of His approval and, instead, I got a huge-sized indication. I shouldn’t have been so surprised. It is for good reason that the apostle Paul writes, “To Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine, according to His power at work within us, to God be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!” (Eph. 3:20, 21).
If you would like a glimpse into our Sunday morning service, have a listen to the message, “To Whom Will You Go?”, based on John 6:60-69.
If you live in or near West Toronto, may I encourage you to join us on Sunday morning. Come and encounter the God who continues to exceed our expectations!