I attended a church ministry event a short while ago that has become a fixture ministry for many, many churches. I won’t specifically mention the event because the event itself is not important and the application of what the LORD might teach extends well beyond a single ministry. All I will say is, the event was “poorly” attended.
Often, when something like this happens in a church function, people get discouraged. Understandable. Taking part in any church event at any level requires something of you. It may require time, planning, money, energy, or effort. It might require planning, rearranging of a schedule, or saying no to something/someone else.
IN THE END
In the end, in the aftermath of “poorly” attended ministry event, I wonder how many of the few leave asking themselves questions concerning the value of their investment. “Was it worth it?” “Should I do it again?” “What’s the point?”
Of course, the “super-spiritual” response to those questions loom in the background of everything a church does. “I am serving God, not man.” “God was glorified by the effort and really just wants consistency. He’ll bless this ministry in the end if I keep at it (even if, eventually, I’m the only one who shows).” Or, a personal favorite of mine, “Wherever two or three are gathered . . .” [see Matthew 18:20]
Those sentiments are nice and true to some extent, but many times, for many reasons, they are insufficient to inform and sustain those who were involved. I know, from personal experience.
It’s at this point, in the aftermath of the “poorly” attended event, that leaders and laypersons alike should be encouraged and active. You’ve just experienced one of two blessings, if not both.
- You’ve experienced the blessing of intimacy, a rarity in today’s culture.Often the biggest, richest blessings come out of small group interaction. It’s natural, although it may be and often is uncomfortable. It’s important as it builds true relationships and friendships. It’s informative and it’s necessary.Think about it for a moment. In an event with 50+ people it’s easy to hide, it’s easy to be surface, it’s easy to talk about the kids or talk about sports or the news and then move on to someone else and do it all over again. In small groups, however, the problem is that there’s only so much fluffy nothing talk to go around.Granted . . . people are good at talking about (dare I say, complaining about) superficial things. Politics, the weather, money, sports, the list could go on and on . . . and on. We’ve become professional socialites. We’ve perfected the art of being superfluous and superficial. It’s a rare and often unplanned occasion when we peel back our protective hard candy social shell and reveal even a modicum of our true selves.Small group gatherings are the most likely and natural places where this will take place.
- You’ve experienced the blessing of God’s leading, guiding, directing, teaching hand.Living things change. My babies are growing. They don’t look exactly the same way they did a year or two ago. Why? Living things change, they grow, they transform.Some of that change we have control over. If we eat too many and too much of the wrong foods we get fat. We can cut and style our hair and clothing. We can paint our faces, our body parts, and our hair. Other things we have no control over. I can’t decide to be 6’5”. I’m 5’9”. I don’t play the trumpet, but I could take lessons (I won’t but I could).In similar way a living, function ministry changes. Purposes change. People groups change. Needs change. Formats change. Living things change. Some of the things we control (I would even suggest that often it’s too many of the important things) others we have no control over.After attending or running a “poorly” attended ministry event it’s important and truly a freeing blessing to be able to step back, talk to God, and consider whether change is appropriate, needed, and/or necessary. This is a significant blessing. You are part of a living body and, hopefully, a living ministry . . . that’s exciting. God has entrusted you with it’s care, not it’s success. Care for it. Nurture, feed, strengthen, transform, grow, inform, and when necessary, lovingly put it to rest.
In all of this, it’s important to know that small or “poorly” attended ministry events are blessings for you, to you, from God. Be blessed by them and bless others with them.