We had an interesting day at church yesterday…a day when the pastoral team was busy dealing with what seemed almost like one crisis after another during the service.
We are a congregation whose focus is on outreach to those who are “unchurched”–who have little or no experience with God or who have been estranged from God and/or the church for various reasons. Many of the folks who come are folks who would not feel comfortable or (unfortunately) be accepted in a more traditional congregation.
Despite that, many weeks our services are not all that different from what you would experience in many congregations. But not yesterday!
One of our pastors spent time visiting with a young man who hadn’t really wanted to come to church with his wife but came anyway. He was angry because the biological father of his stepdaughter has not returned the child from visitation…and so threatened the grandmother. However, he acknowledged that he should not have done that because he really doesn’t want anything bad to happen to the girls’ family.
A couple of our homeless members warned that another member of their community who came was “bad news.” And he created some challenges! He took a swing at one fo the ministers before church…kept trying to get the preacher’s attention (mine!) to verbally respond…and about a third of the way into the sermon, took out his bottle to take a big swig–and was hustled out for counseling. He was at least tipsy if not also high.
We a nurturing a young couple with a baby who have so many issues to deal with because of their ages…
A couple of the people who were scheduled to take part in the service didn’t show, and so their parts had to be covered…
We have several members who are dealing with significant health issues…
Add to that the normal chaos of our children…the other dysfunctional family situations we deal with on a regular basis…preparations for a major budget fundraiser this week…and I’m reminded that outreach can be challenging!
However, I’m also reminded that Jesus came to reach those who in many ways were not accepted or acceptable…and I’m sure that at times he was involved in situations that were challenging…perhaps sometimes chaotic. So maybe we’re not doing so badly. We are seeing changes for the better in peoples’ lives–and isn’t that what ministry is all about anyway? Even–perhaps especially–when it is challenging?