I’ll be honest: there are some Sundays when exciting ministry happens more than other Sundays. Today was a day full of exciting ministry and God moments. First of all, for you pastors, do you ever have that feeling where you are not overly excited about your sermon, but when you start actually preaching it you find that you do, in fact, like your sermon, AND you find that it is speaking to you even though you are the one preaching? I had this moment today where about 3 minutes into my sermon I thought to myself, “This isn’t a bad sermon, and it’s really a message that I need to really hear for myself, too. I don’t know what I was worried about.” It was also a day when everyone in the congregation seemed in tune with worship, with one another, and with God. I guess that’s the Spirit working. AND I had a friend come to church this morning- my Episcopalian priest colleague who is transitioning to a new parish decided to come and worship in Morgantown today- I was very excited to have her there. Thanks for coming, Whitney!
There were other Spirit sightings throughout the day, such as the fact that FIVE new people have joined the choir- and THREE of them are children, PLUS their mothers. So that makes 5 young faces in the already large choir for our size church. I swear that about half of the congregation got up to sing when it was time for the choral piece. My heart was strangely warmed… 😉 Not to mention, singing is one of my absolute favorite things to do, so that was already an exciting thing happening.
The other Spirit sighting came in the form of the faces at youth group tonight. For several months, we have had teenagers skateboarding in the parking lot, and some have done intentional damage to the church property. It has been a challenge for the congregation to figure out how best to “deal” with them. But tonight, some of them were invited in for youth group, which included a meal, games, a devotional learning time, and singing. I thought they might just stay for the meal, and I was ok with that, but they actually stayed all the way through devotional time and left before the singing part. I was so excited that they were in the building- and even more excited that they looked like they were having fun and were engaging themselves in the activities- even the devotions! (We watched a NOOMA video and had some discussion). I am so thankful for our high school students and youth volunteers that offered a sincere invitation to these youth and they accepted it and seemed to enjoy themselves. This may not seem like a huge deal, but for those of us who have dealt with the challenges we have faced as a church, this seemed like a transformational moment. I don’t know yet if it was. Only time will tell.
We also had new faces at youth tonight who tended to be more shy. The God sighting came when a little girl sang her heart out during worship/singing time after hardly saying anything all night. It’s amazing what music can do.
And of course, we started this once a month youth group as an experiment to see how it would go, and so far, it has been incredible. We’ve had great attendance, everyone seems to have fun, and the parents are very supportive of it. One of the challenges of youth ministry is that often times you don’t know if seeds are being planted enough to bear fruit down the road- you only know the seeds that you are trying to plant, but may not see them blossom. But I celebrate that we continue to have success with the program, the kids have fun, and the older youth are engaging in conversation about faith issues and our complex world. I hope that we continue to celebrate what the church is doing with and for the youth in Morgantown.
…And as in life, ministry also has its ups and downs- our congregation has seen a lot of our members in the hospital lately and facing health issues, so it’s a challenge to keep up with everyone and make sure that people know they are being cared for and held in prayer. My time the past few weeks has been spent visiting people in the hospital, offering pastoral care, along with attending a lot of meetings and building relationships. That’s the thing about ministry though: there is so much to it that you never know what your day will bring, who you will talk with, who you will meet, what the situation is, and when the Spirit will move. As a pastor, my job is to remain open to when, indeed, it does.