But last Sunday I had a rewarding experience that will go down in my mental record book. I was filling in for a friend who had taken a much-needed Sunday off. He is a church planter who three years ago planted a congregation in a (then) fast-growing area of Portland.
Last week the church planter and I met and Matt told me that they average about 60 in worship and meet at a local middle school. OK, great.
However, this was Labor Day weekend. Summer. A holiday weekend. The LAST holiday weekend before school starts. And my brother-in Christ told his congregation he was going to be gone. Oh my…
There were twenty of us in worship. The gymnasium was set up with some chairs in the front and then round-shaped tables encircling the back where most of the people sat. It is probably one of the smallest groups to which I have preached (at least in as long as I can remember). But none of that is really the point. God was worshipped and honored.
BUT (BIG but…) as I began to preach, I noticed this middle school youth, kind of wandering around the back. He fidgeted around the coffee table (where the pastries were…he was a middle school boy, remember). He kind of wandered over to the sound board & watched the technician there.
But the longer I preached (maybe total 25 min), the more he wandered towards the front. And while earlier his attention had been focused on the pastry table & the soundboard, he began to make eye contact with me. (It was a small crowd, remember. It is easy to move from person to person making eye contact pretty quickly with just twenty people!)
The longer I preached, the closer he moved.
The last five minutes or so, he had moved up to the back row of tables & was holding on to a chair & leaning forward. His eyes were glued to the front.
I was preaching on what it means to be a new creation in Christ. But, little matter. If I can not only attract the attention, but KEEP the attention of a middle school boy who is not being corralled by his parents and forced to sit in a chair and keep quiet, then I must be doing something right!
It’s fun to preach to the large crowds. But I actually felt better after preaching to one middle school boy (and nineteen others) than I did after those Sundays where the masses had gathered.
Thank you, God, for the encouragement that middle school boy gave to me. I hope I gave him something in return.