So much good stuff going on makes it a crazy week.
We have been having some small gatherings in homes, a kind of get-to-know-the-pastor meetings, and it has been wonderful to hear peoples' dreams for their church.
Tomorrow I meet with a church planting/evangelism guru from Southern Seminary. We both had our first churches in Winchester, so it's cool to swap tales...
Sunday, we started our new worship service. Pastor Bruce had really laid the groundwork for this. It sounds nuts to be in a church less than 3 months and start a new service, but the hard work had already been done before I got here. I am totally reaping where I did not sow. We start at 11 in Wesley Hall, our multi-purpose facility.
That sounds weird-- to have two services, both of which I will preach, at 11. David Peyton, one of our members and musicians had a great idea... the we could run the services concurrently, not simply offset, say 1 at 11 and the other at 11:15 or 11:30. He and Drew McNeill had timed things in the sanctuary and we realized that if I preach first thing in the new service, I have plenty of time to head to the sanctuary, where lay ministers lead the first part. After some long talks with Phil Hogg who has some experience with concurrent services, we decided it was the best way to start a new service.
We had 111 in the service, so we are feeling really blessed. But the week after the opening is always tough because the numbers go down as people who just came to check it out don't come back. Hopefully we will keep up our inviting... there's no way 111 people showed up without lots of people seriously inviting everyone they know. Emma Newton, one of our youth, stuck invitations in the lockers at the high school!
It was a great service-- awesome music. It's amazing to have so many people who can play instruments, lead worship, and then take over when the pastor heads to the sanctuary. And how crazy is it that there are so many lay people in the sanctuary who can lead the church through the liturgy without the pastor!
And to top my week off, and it's only Monday, so who knows what else will happen! I got a chance to preach in the Methodist Student Center to a group of kids totally primed for the Word by awesome music! I shared a bit of my testimony, really focusing on how important it was to have some guys around me who were Christians, and I challenged the students to be the kind of friends who will being people to Jesus.
There was a great response of students seeking God to fill them with the Spirit to share Christ!
And then... a young woman comes up and says, "I think I am where you used to be. I don't believe in God. A friend brought me here tonight. I'm a scientist and I just can't see how to believe in God."
We had some talk-- there's not a lot you can say in just a few minutes. I shared with her that God has to break through in our lives with the gift of faith. It's not something we are going to figure out or pluck from the world around us. And then she said something that hit home: "I don't have a Bible and I am not sure how to get one." I was not either. I never went to the section of a bookstore where they had Bibles! And what would you do if you saw the bewildering array of translations? If it had not been for the Gideons giving me a Bible...
So I got a student leader to tell me where Drew keeps his stash, and we got her a Bible! Let us pray that God reveals Himself in a powerful way!