Discerning where God is at work is really easy - sometimes. I confess I still wonder, when it looks like an obvious example of God at work in my church, is it OK to simply trust that that's what I'm seeing? And then respond accordingly?
I do really want to be obedient. And I don't want to miss out when God puts opportunities in front of me, especially when it seems like he's rubbing my nose in what he's doing. Sometimes I think I must be stubborn or else just slow. I remember a Bill Easum quote: "God, show us what you are up to, and run over us with it until we become a part of it."
Sometimes I guess I need to be run over.
God seems to be offering our congregation a remarkable set of exciting opportunities in the past year. It's certainly not that we've been working so hard to cultivate them! As far as I can see, we're being faithful in the daily routines, and we're located in an urban neighborhood where stuff is happening.... and we're hearing the Word preached and the Sacraments administered. And all kinds of doors are opening before us! Isn't this what's supposed to happen? Well, actually, it doesn't always, and I'm not at all sure it's "supposed to." But this past year... well...
We've got this house next door which was gifted to us a couple of years ago, and we've got a group of young folks living there now who are working with our congregation to help us be a "neighborhood church." Getting strangers to live in community and BE community WITH the neighbors is not necessarily easy, and we've had our stressful moments, but things are coming together. And then out of the blue (it seemed) a national youth ministry organization came to us and asked if they could partner with us, and if their new staff could have our church be their home church, and then there was an opening in the community house for them.... and then an urban housing ministry is reactivating its work in our immediate neighborhood, and then a city-wide kids' program opened its arms to our congregation in an amazing way... and we've been blessed by grants from our classis, and in the past year we've had a small surge of new members... and a funded college intern chose our church for her summer experience, and... well, you see what I mean. Coincidence? Providence? A special Spirit-shaped set of events for such a time as this?
So here's the thing.... the deacons at my church are charged with the responsibility for outreach. The opportunities are falling into our laps, and they seem to be shaped in such a way that they almost inevitably enhance each other's effects on our ministry. Synergy is happening to us! I'm praising God... and confessing that he has done it. And worrying a little that we might not handle all this faithfully.... and feeling a little like a doubter, muttering to myself that this is probably too good to be true... and feeling embarassed about my hesitations. I've got to hurry up and follow where God is at work. Do you share my excitement?