Posts Tagged ‘church growth’

Some weeks, “the stuff” that happens between Sundays is a huge burden, which sometimes leaves me feeling very down. But this week has been a week of stuff– really, really good stuff.

Tuesday was all sorts of crazy, as I was both trying to make up for a lost work day due to the Holiday, and get ready for the evening’s Celebration of Discipline study. I wound up working almost 12 hours that day, and thought I had packed the day so tightly that nothing could sneak in. My husband and another fellow from the church went to take a look at a lady’s house (as my husband noticed that it was in disrepair when we were Christmas Caroling.) When they got there, it was so much worse than they could’ve ever imagined. What they thought was simple carpentry work on the outside turned out to be a major job on the inside as well. A tree had grown into the roof, and had caused a whole bedroom on the inside to be FILLED with mold and mildew. If anyone official ever saw it, the house would be condemned for sure. We happened to be talking about the Discipline of service that night, and so we took a few minutes and made a slide show of the pictures of the should-be-condemned house to show folks afterward. The response was HUGE. Here it is two days later, and over $1000 has already been raised, the tree has already been cut down, and work has already been started– with promises for both more donations and more labor. I’m so wildly impressed with my church. For all the ways I’m sometimes driven to insanity, I’m so impressed by the ways that they see a need and jump right on it. I preached on the wedding in Cana, and how God provides in abundance last Sunday, and I can’t help but be reminded how God equips us to respond in abundance. I have no doubt that before many days have passed that this woman will again be living in a healthy space.

Another place that I happened to see God at work was in a group of 15 pregnant high school girls. Granted, this doesn’t sound like much of a blessing to have that many pregnant girls in ONE High School, but it was strangely holy. Our church has recently started a partnership with the school to start a pregnancy support group– mostly as a way to help keep these girls in school, but also as a way to support these girls that the world has turned its back on. Because I’m both very young, and the only woman minister around, the school counselor thought I might make a great addition to the group– and I guess my presence makes it sort of a faith based approach. I got into this room, and was more nervous than I expected, and felt like an outsider because I’m the only one there who has never been pregnant. I can’t relate to labor pains or some of the things that we talked about. But as we really started sharing (at what we thought was just going to be an “interest” meeting), emotions just started pouring out. The girls were sharing things about how they aren’t getting any support from their parents, and sometimes even the fathers. They just opened up– and so did my heart. I’ve been in conversation with the guidance counselor for a while as we’ve been trying to get this program started, but lately I’ve really been in prayer that God would not only use me, but use the church, in these girl’s lives. I’m still not sure how this partnership is going to work, but I do feel like both me and the church will be used. I’ve invited the girls into the church, and told them it was a safe place for them to come where they would be welcomed and loved on. But what if they come? Well, we’ll need to make sure our nursery is staffed on Sundays. (It’s been hit or miss, and the need is presenting itself. But that’s another topic for another day.) We might even have to change our ideas about what the church looks like, and who Jesus would minister to. Tough growing pains for a church who might like secretly wish that the whole church would stay the way it is, and further, that all the people in it might look just like them. But, I think, the Holy Spirit is about to rock our worlds. We’ve been praying to grow, and if these girls find a safe space with us, they might just be the growth we dared to pray for.

Holy Week, as we normally think of it, is the week between the parades of Palm Sunday and the joy of Easter Morning. It’s the week when we remember Jesus’ steps toward the cross. In Celebration of Discipline, Foster talks about living the “Cross-life”, which is what we’re doing when we “deny yourselves, take up your cross, and follow me.” This might just have been Holy Week, at least in my life, and probably in the life of the church– the week when we’ve done the best job of really following in Christ’s steps.

I’m so far behind this week. I might just have to work on both my days off (which would normally be a huge source of grouchiness). But if glimpsing the Holy at work among us in such amazing ways is the treasure I’ll find, maybe I can write a sermon on another day.


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I ran 75 bulletins, which is just double what I run every Sunday. Surely that would be enough, surely we’d have a few left over. It wasn’t. There weren’t.

Our church was literally bursting at the seams yesterday. I’m not sure that we actually had any seats left (which I know for sure only because people were even sitting in the front pews…gasp!) Over the last few months, the Holy Spirit has been showing up in all sorts of amazing ways, and like the Valley of Dry Bones in Ezekiel, the Spirit is moving the life-less to life-filled. And as a church, we’ve dreamed together of the day when our church might be overflowing.

Granted, yesterday was a special day, and we had lots of visitors from far away places. Not everyday can be like that…at least not yet. But something remarkable happened. All those faithful folks that show up Sunday after Sunday that have been praying for God to grow Sherwood felt what it might feel like when God moves in that direction. There was so much excitement and energy, and the hymns had this loud, robust, lively feel. People were laughing and joking and welcoming and praising and worshipping and feeling…and hoping.

God, May you cause Sherwood to burst open at the seams–may it be so filled with love and life that a mere building can’t contain it!

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