Besides her and her husband we didn’t really know a soul. It was time to pull on my extrovert panties and make it happen.
We grabbed drinks and Chad and I swung around the yard slowly. Twinkly-lights, paper straws in mason jars with sangria, big comfy cushions around the grass and we found a couple to chat with.
As the night wore on I found myself on a backyard sofa with a few people that we were just getting to know. Like us, most of them were the church-going type.
“So what are you reading right now?”
“How did you and your spouse meet?”
“Where do you want your life to be in five years?”
The questions flew. It was the flagship conversation among the thirty- and forty-something set who were just getting to know one another.
Someone turned directly to me. “Where do YOU want to be in five years, Sarah?”
I answered something general about writing, saying that I would like to have finished a book or two by then. And then like any good introvert at a party does, I lobbed the question back.
“What about you?” I turned to a man sitting kitty-corner to me on a different chair. I’d learned earlier that he was a pastor at a smallish church in my county. Pastor or no pastor, he looked he could be best friends with Phil Dunphy from Modern Family.
He leaned back in his chair and I could tell that not only did he have a specific answer to this question, but that he’d just been waiting until someone asked him.
“In five years, I would like to have at least doubled or tripled our church attendance and I would like to move to 3 Sunday morning services.”
I didn’t know how to respond.
Um. Good luck with that?
I’m pretty sure I just nodded and said that I hoped he accomplished that and then secretly wondered at what a strange answer this was.
And he had a plan. He knew how this was going to happen and he began to share it with all of us.
I sipped the last of my sangria and set down my cup on a table nearby. His answer was like a screech on the record of the evening.
This is not a message warning against large churches. Not at all. I’ve attended both small and large churches in my life and both have good things and bad things about them.
Instead, what struck me about this forty-something pastor’s answer was that he didn’t seem to be happy with his current church. In order for it to be what he thought was valuable, he needed it to be bigger, better and he needed to be in front of more people. He wasn’t satisfied with the small handful of young people and the expansive elderly population in his congregation. He wanted a young crowd, an edgy crowd, a crowd, I guessed, that would get his jokes.
The more he talked the more I wondered what he would do with the elderly population if he had a choice? Would he ship them off to a different house of worship?
Why didn’t he want to do the best with what he’d been given? Why did it need to be bigger or better to have value?
I think in our own arenas, whether we pastor churches or write blogs or move around the country on speaking circuits, we might all have a little of this guy’s same idea wrenched into our hearts.
So I wonder, why not be faithful with what we have now and then if it expands, if it grows, let it be from the out-pouring of our faithfulness rather then forcing what we think should happen into existence. Why not ask God what HE wants to do rather than tell Him my plans. Someone once said that when we do that, God simply laughs.
Sure I want to get a book written, published even. But am I fine if that doesn’t happen? Yes. I think I am. That answer has been a long time in coming for me, and has been accompanied by a lot of waiting, but yes. I would rather God fit me into His ideas for me, rather than me fit Him into my ideas for me.
I think that God just wants us to be faithful today. Right now. Faithful with what we have and with what is right in front of us.
What do you think? Do you, like me, sometimes want the bigger or better because we think it has more value?