Easter is over…that’s actually a good thing in some respects. It was supposed to be a banner day for us. A friend of mine posted on Facebook his excitement at breaking an attendance record, we didn’t. I read what others are doing, I see posts from friends and churches and read blogs and stats and realize that we have so far to go. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s good to know there’s work to be done, it’s exciting to be in a place that has so much potential and to be able to see that potential realized…I’m happy that my buddy had a “successful” Easter, really I am, except that I’m not.
Well that’s not true, I am glad that his church was able to reach people but there’s some jealousy in my heart and it’s not fun to admit that. It’s not easy to admit it either. I mean come on I’m a pastor, and furthermore I’m one of those enlightened pastors who measures success in a different way, I look at relationship and connection and quality of connection as opposed to the numbers in the seats. I see the potential we have for reaching our community in new and innovative ways. I’m all about engaging on a deeper level than most churches are willing to go, so me being jealous that a friend of mine had an attendance record last Sunday, and in fact many churches that I know of seemed to do the same shouldn’t even be an issue, except it is. I want all the things I just wrote about myself to be true all of the time, at best they are true some of the time, and usually not true at the same times. I came into Easter Sunday happy about the inevitable bump that we would see…except we didn’t really see one. Okay that’s not accurate there were more people than we usually have, but not enough…not enough for the other part of me that does measure success by the numbers.
It’s all about expectations, for instance… I am a huge spiced jelly bean fan. I like them, to me they are better than the fruit flavored ones, I may even like them better than Jelly Belly’s but that’s up in the air, I can put a serious hurt on a bowl of Jelly Belly’s, but I digress. I looked for spiced Jelly Beans this year, and I can’t find them, I’m sure they exist somewhere but for some strange reason they weren’t around where I was looking. My expectations of eating spiced jelly beans from after Easter sales have not been realized. They are not here. It’s the same thing with my expectations for Easter Sunday morning, they just weren’t met and there really isn’t much I can do about that. I’ll just have to deal with it and move on.
Still it’s not really easy to deal with. It’s hard to see what you know can be, it’s hard to look at the number of kids we had, which was great, it’s hard to hear the new musician and the new music and all that stuff, and wonder if it’s going to work. I want our church to be the place that people in Locust Point think of when they have a need, or when they need someone to talk to or when they need someone to pray for something. I want people in South Baltimore to see us as a place to come to when they are tired and hurting all the ways a person hurts. I want our church to become a hub of ministry activity, that is doing things in the community and the city and well it would branch out from there. I want all these things, and I firmly believe with all that is in me we are taking the steps that need to be taken to see this happen. I believe that we are working in Gods plan to see these things happen, but I’m tired at the same time because it feels like we’re pushing a boulder up a mountain sometimes, and when I think that I realize how hard it must seem to the people in the church, who have been here year in and year out, and who have watched things change around them, have watched the family and friends they love and used to serve with either leave, or get older and stop coming, or pass away, and it makes me mad that I even think I have a right to be tired when they have been in the fight for years.
We’re not going anywhere. This is where God has called us, and for the vast majority of my time I love what I am doing, love the people that I’m doing it with, and am excited about what is coming, but there are days…days that are supposed to be different, that are supposed to be traditionally more than they are at this point, and in those days I get frustrated and tired, and want to physically pick every person in Locust Point up on a Sunday Morning and carry them into the church…
I guess the hardest part of this whole thing is I know that it’s going to take time, a lot of time to see some of the things that I know are possible to happen, I know that we are going to be able to do new things, and see new things and well yea all that stuff but if I were completely honest with myself, I really thought the growth would be faster. I thought we would be at 30 to 50 people on Sunday mornings by now. I thought we would have more musicians some of whom were volunteers, I figured our Kids Ministry would be popping, well okay in some respects it is, but I thought that things would be moving faster…the fact that they are not smacks me in the face and I feel like I’m failing God the people in our church and my family. Expectations suck because, for a person like me, they never really are met.
Anyway that’s where my mind has been the past few days…perhaps these thoughts will resonate with others, who knows.