When the Lord called us out and sent us into the ministry, we had the typical grand vision of a large congregation, a powerful worship team and a huge staff of leaders and volunteers reaching out to the community to make disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
However, what we experienced was so far from what we envisioned that we often felt we had made a mistake in even starting a church. I often felt I should just pack it all in, tuck my tail in, return to the St. Louis church community, and just admit that we blew it because we never should have been so arrogant as to think we should be doing this.
After eight years of ministry and almost nine years of living in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, we still minister to only about ten to twelve people each week in a small space that is basically a room for various church and outreach organizations to hold their board meetings.
We move a couple of tables in an effort to arrange the space to make it conducive for teaching and fellowship. Directly across the hall we utilize a small conference room to provide an hour of fun for the children that occasionally attend. We have a large library of Bible DVDs and we have scheduled a full year of 30-minute videos that have accompanying activities like coloring pages, puzzles and games for children.
We do this every week, every Sunday morning.
Just when I’m feeling like we’re just spinning our wheels and not really making much progress, I recently got feedback from those who attend and have made an amazing discovery.
I find that the strategy of opening our weekly gathering with prayer and meditation while singing along with worship videos is perfectly suited for this family of believers. With no ‘personality’ standing before us, urging us to lift our hands or shout certain phrases, each person is able to settle in and focus their attention upon the Lord. We find that our hearts are able to connect with the Spirit of God in a more intimate way that goes beyond the coercion and persuasion of a “worship leader.”
I’m not opposed to having a worship leader. I’ve been one. I’ve desired to have one. But after eight years of trying to fulfill that image and vision, I finally gave in to what God wanted and what this community of Believers needed.
As we transition from this very personal time of prayer and worship, we take a break for fellowship before shifting into our teaching session. This gives everyone some time to reconnect with one another after a long week.
Our teaching style has been very simplistic. I use power point presentations and video clips to help attendees to engage in the Word of God in a very personal way. I have discovered that our teaching style allows the Holy Spirit to teach people well beyond the words I’m actually saying.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that God is really in control of what is happening in Urban Life Church. From our youngest members to the grandparents, God is doing something unique in our midst.
I guess it becomes tough for me to adjust to this because I’m so accustomed to measuring success in terms that are quantifiable. But in this strategy, I cannot measure the effectiveness or success of what we’re doing by attendance patterns or financial income.
More and more, I realize that we will never know what is really happening here, until we stand before the Lord at the judgment seat of Christ; when we are rewarded for our service to Him.
More and more I realize that the sense of fulfillment must come out of my relationship WITH God and not just what I think I am accomplishing FOR God. More and more I realize that we have been called to something that is so different and so unique that I must simply do what I see God doing and say what I hear God saying. More and more I realize that I must be more like Jesus. More and more I realize that my goal must simply be to please Him.