It has been tough at our Church(es) of late.
There have been times when I have really felt a bit of a failure as a Vicar, if I’m honest.
We split our services a while back and new people have started coming (but very slowly) but also some have left, in fact more have left than have joined, which is tough.
Also, have been keen to encourage other people to run with what God has put on their hearts, which I think is what leadership is all about, but we currently have a small Church with lots of opportunities to join in with.
Again, I feel guilt, and I feel guilty that am I unintentionally making people feel the unspoken weight of expectations.
-That said, I do think God is challenging some parts of his Church about Apathy, but I guess if I have a rant about Apathy the people who are least apathetic and most faithful will probably end up feeling guilty, and those who probably need the kick up the bum wont, ironic isn’t it!
A book I’ve been meaning to read for a while (because it has such a great title!) is “driven beyond the call” and that certainly not what I want for people.
It is easy to feel guilty. -Or at least I find it easy to feel guilty, other people have a different mindset and might be reading this blog with a frown thinking this isn’t me at all, if that is you, praise God, we are all unique and you may struggle with something I don’t, and that’s okay, different things effect different people differently, but we are all loved and precious to God.
In fact I feel guilt when someone treads on my foot in the supermarket!
As I prayed God reminded me that success isn’t the goal, but rather faithfulness is, are we in step with God?
It is important to remember that God doesn’t judge me on my productivity, but rather his love for me is constant and unchanging, he cannot love me anymore, nor will his love for me diminish.
The Bible says that there is “No Condemnation in Christ Jesus”.
There is conviction, and sometimes people get a bit confused, conviction is from the Holy Spirit, and comes from his awesome love for us.
The Holy Spirit and the weight of other peoples expectations, or pressures are different things, but many of us can blur them in our minds, pray the “Holy Spirit of truth leads us into all truth” and away from false guilt and condemnation.
Guilt has no place in the Christian DNA, but is a trait amongst those who want to do the right thing, sometimes good attributes can have something of a shadow-side.
This made me think of some of our early meetings of the Church plant, the first “meeting” was held in a car park, on a wall paper paste table, doing communion outside as a prophetic act remembering that Jesus shed his blood and died for this area, that Jesus is good news for this area, and we wanted people to encounter Christ crucified and Christ resurrected.
Early days we didn’t know if anyone other than Sam and I would turn up, although we have had some low numbers we have always been more than 2! We said then as we were lugging a great big sound system around, that we will set it up -in faith- for anyone who wanted to hear about Jesus, even if it was just one person, then it was worth it.
This reminded me of my prayer yesterday morning, when I felt God say, what matters is not the stuff, not the numbers, but “Am I here?” is Jesus in the midst of us?
Last night we sung a song with the line “A Church that is known for your presence again”, which is what it is all about, the presence of Christ with his people, I’d rather have 2 people and Jesus with us, than a crowd of thousands and no presence of Christ.
So, as I prayed yesterday, a reminder that whatever happens, however small we become or large to grow into, what ultimately matters is are we welcoming and hosting the presence of Christ?
And if I feel guilty, I need to prayerfully challenge my mindset.
So, as we continue on this bumpy and rocky journey, the constant call is “Jesus you are welcome here, but guilt you are not!”