Monday, January 26, 2009

Evaluate this...

Yesterday for our service we were quite a small lot- about 35 adults and 15 kids. That coupled with the fact that our technology melted down overnight leaving us with no lyrics to songs certainly created a challenging atmosphere. Thankfully our worship team of Frank, Caroline & Linda had a beautiful spirit about them that drew us into the presence of God.

On the plus side of small numbers is that counting the offering was easy, on the down side some people were discouraged.

As I drove home I felt God's peace about what took place in the hearts of many before, during & after the service, & in the meal we shared. We certinly didn't look like a 'successful church', yet I can't help but think we didn't fail in God's eyes.

I was reminded of a pastor friend of mine who recently wrote that since he was now just attending a church & not on staff he was slipping into a mindset of evaluating everything that went on & he didn't like it!

It's way too easy to be critical. I have a graphic that always makes me laugh, it's a 'Worship comment card' that has space for your name & demographic info & then continues on for about a hundred lines because we're all really eager to evaluate & criticize what went on.

Beenderdundat way too many times myself. Sorry God...

Yesterday afternoon I read Bob Beltz's post 'Normal evaluation of church experience proves to be twisted' & realized why I had a sense of peace from God about our time together, even though we were small & disjointed at times.

Bob wrote that the three key questions we ought to ask ourselves as we leave the services are:

Did I give God heart-felt worship? Yes- Chris's story & prayer highlighted that fact!

Did I faithfully give of my resources? Yes- our offering per person attending was probably better than normal.

Did I hear what God was saying to me? Yes- a number of people shared their struggles with each other & what God was saying in our midst to them - real community.

Look at what Paul wrote during one particularly stressful time of serving God,

2 Corinthians 1:8-11; 2:14-16
We don't want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us in Asia province. It was so bad we didn't think we were going to make it. We felt like we'd been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he's the God who raises the dead! And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he'll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing. You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation—I don't want you in the dark about that either. I can see your faces even now, lifted in praise for God's deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part.

In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse.
The Father's 'perpetual victory parade' usually looks & feels different than the vistory parade in the world. We'll just keep marching on...


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