Hard to get up for this morning. I usually get up well before breakfast to put the finishing touches to a sermon, doctrine slots or leading. But the night before took it out of me. It was half six before I got to the desk.
Reflected on the Saturday night meeting. One of the most encouraging features from that night was seeing a guy from church who’d pitched up. He didn’t bring anyone but he came. Life’s pretty hard for him at the moment; at work he’s flat to the boards and at home there’s the challenges of looking after a very young family. But he came. That’s what it means to play team; to pitch up when there’s no immediate benefit to you. And I found it disproportionately encouraging.
Had low expectations for the all age meeting. We’re not the best at getting people to church events for a variety of reasons. Baptisms buck the trend and there’s no shortage of those at CCB! But I knew that one non-Christian family were coming. And we expected our school friends to be there. So preparing an evangelistic sermon hadn’t been hard. I’d gone with the decision to do Luke 1. It was less in your face than Luke 14 and opened up the chance to invite people to pursue things further in Christianity Explored. We’re going to run it in parallel with morning church after Easter. At least three women have approached me and said that they’d find this hugely useful and that’s terrific.
The highlight of the all age meeting was seeing number one son in the row in front with a service sheet in his hand singing the hymn. Priceless. He’s never done that before. Awesome stuff.
Good children’s slot from Simon, our children’s worker. Made the point in an engaging way that Easter is all about Jesus dying and rising. Some of the kids showed signs of being post-Colin; they were up for participation and happy to shout out. Good to see Simon having to be nimble on his feet!
Thought sermon was adequate but little more. Though there were a few encouraging comments afterwards. More so than usual. I guess it was simple and clear, but unspectacular. I felt it lacked the colour that Al had so wonderfully given his talk the previous evening. Perhaps I just need an Aussie accent and I’ll get away with it!
Friends didn’t come to church, which was disappointing. But we’re in it for the long haul and there’ll be other opportunities. They came for lunch and we had several conversations that we wouldn’t have had at church and so in the grand scheme of things, it may have been more fruitful. ‘Both and’ might have been preferable. But if it was ‘either or’ perhaps it wasn’t so bad to skip church. We went to the park after lunch. The dads and the boys kicked a ball around, the Mums chatted and the girls got very, very excited! I need to spend some time with the kids over the next few weeks. They’re showing signs of AP4L fatigue! They’d like to see a bit more of their Daddy and when he’s there they’d like him to be a bit more engaged and a bit less preoccupied when they do!
Last night was smaller than usual. We’ve killed people over the last few weeks. But what a way to go! But, as usual for us, there were guests which was great. We invited people to write on a card what they’d enjoyed most about the AP4L week and one thing that they’d learnt. I had intended to read some of these out at the end of the meeting and use them as a stimulus for prayer but the time went. In a possibly ill-advised post sermon question time we tried to deal with the ‘what about those that have never heard’ question. It wasn’t my idea. I don’t make up the questions! But Al had dealt with it brilliantly on the Saturday night and someone asked whether I shared his view. I do. The sermon, on Luke 13 and the narrow door, was pretty full on and so was the question time and so the whole meeting had a heavy feel to it. Shame but morale seemed high afterwards and I managed to get round a few visitors at the end.
It’s been a huge effort by everyone over the past 18 months. We’ve never attempted anything quite so ambitious. But we’ve never been better prepared for a mission. God has been very good to us. He’s sustained us. He’s enabled us to use the gifts and abilities he’s given us for his glory. We have a number of leads to follow up; people who’ve expressed an interest in pursuing thigs further, which is hugely exciting. The time for considered reflection lies in the future. I’m too close to events to make reliable assessments of what we’ve done. That can wait. But it’s been a really good week. Not perfect by any means; flawed and ill conceived, no doubt. But it’s been brilliant. We’ve worked well as a church, we’ve partnered with other churches, we’ve prayed, we’ve invited, got into conversations and explained the gospel with friends, colleagues and people we happen to meet and we’ve run some fantastic events for the glory of God. It’s been time well spent.
Left church after 9pm. Fell asleep in front of MOTD. No staff meeting today; joy! Partnership in the evening; pants.