Sunday, 3 February 2013

Reflecting on Christmas

It seems a long time ago now, but I am still trying to work out quite what happened this last Christmas.

We had two carol services on the Sunday before Christmas, 4.30pm & 7pm.

I knew something was up when guests started arriving 45 minutes early.

And they kept coming.

Not sure what your Church is like, but even though our start time is pretty consistent at 10am, we have people arriving well into the beginning of the service.

Well this was different.

By the time we were ten minutes to go, we are basically looking full.

The next 20 minutes are a blur, as the stewarding team managed to move our entire refreshment set up and fit in an extra 80 seats.

And so they kept coming.  We started just ten minutes late, surfing a tidal wave of visitors.

The second meeting felt a little bit small in comparison, which is a bit odd as it was larger than a usual service.

So we ended up with 540 people there.  Actually it was 570, but about 30 came to both including the choir.  540 unique visitors breaks our previous record for any day by a neat 123.

The vast majority of extra people were guests.  Some invited.  Some completely out of the blue.

There is not a marketing strategy, or a prayer strategy, or a guest speaker, or anything really that I can put my finger on, which explains why so many people seemed to show up.

I am pleased about that, because it must have been a God thing!


Pauline said...

Brilliant news, Dave, and I'm only sorry WE didn't make it this year! I can't claim to have all the answers; of course these things happen when a church is really "sold out" for Jesus, and is a praying church- where members seek God's will and direction for them.

Personally speaking,what I have found is that it's the only church my husband, who doesn't feel comfortable in most churches,and won't atend my church with me, has always got something positive from the all too few visits we've made to Barnabas.
We have attended special services- like Joy's dedication. What he notices is the love, the warmth the friendliness of your church. It is an all-age church that reaches people in all situations in life. It is also obvious that lives have been touched and changed as a result of the Barnabas church. We witnessed an intensely moving testimony from someone whose life had been turned around by the love of Jesus and by that love expressed throughout your church. I have often been moved to tears whilst hearing a testimony at your church.

The worship is also great- ranging from the upbeat and joyful to the slower purely prayerful. There is oten a sense of fun, too- holy wholesome laughter.

The answer must be that, as long as you seek God's will- people will come in. People need that Love, that meaning.

Am I right in assuming they weren't all Christians? That many were "seekers?" If so- that doesn't surprise me. Of course you are doing just what Jesus did, and wants His church to do- in reaching out to people in all situtations and you're making the words "Good News" really mean something.

As long as you continue to seek God's will, it's going to happen. It's a challenge, of course- you've already had to expand and find more space. But it is something to celebrate.
May you continue to serve the people of Shrewsbury and far beyond! With many thanks.

Pauline said...

Sorry for the many typos and missed out letters in my last comment! A lesson learned- always read through before posting!

I also meant to add the fact that Christmas and Easter are key times for people to seek meaning in their lives and a spiritual dimension.

It could even be the very stress and pressure of commercialism that also makes people aware of an emptiness tht needs filling.

People who are seeking may be embarrassed even, to go to a church at other times. Christmas and also Easter may give them an opportunity to pluck up courage and go.

Our church could never boast such a high attendance as Barnabas, but the Carols by Candlelight service is well attended every year by many who don't usually go to church.

People do sense there must be more to Christmas and Easter besides the pressure to buy. In fact the very pressure may lead them to seek a deeper meaning in life. To find a peace that eludes them in this world.

You, at Barnabas, are well prepared to meet this need in people- this hunger and thirst for real meaning in a world that, as I once read, "loves things and uses people!"

The cost of following Jesus is high, as well we know- and maybe not everyone who comes through your doors will do that. But where there is Love and Acceptance and Warmth, a few may well do so. Otherwise, you'll no doubt love them anyway- and pray for them!