“…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:3
It’s Sunday afternoon. Our worship service today was a real blessing.
Richard Coombs brought us a stirring and encouraging message from Psalms 63.
During the fellowship time following the service most people stayed to share with each other and greet the new people that attended.
Our new church has been meeting for less than a year now and its only ten weeks since we’ve been meeting in a hall. Our numbers are growing each week. The church leaders have been working very hard to make sure that we start right.
Things seem to be going well – so why my concern?
Well, all these things have to do with what we are doing.
What about God?
It’s so easy to forget the Psalm 127:1warning; “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watchesover the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.”
Don’t get me wrong, we have been bathing our planning session in prayer. We have been seeking God’s guidance and we have been giving him the glory for the obvious ways He is blessing us – even beyond our feeble prayers – even more that we have dared ask.
And I know that this verse, Psalm 127:1, shares its theme with the wisdom in Proverbs, which promotes diligence without greed and anxiety (Proverbs 10:22; 23:4-5). I know God honours hard work.
So Why am I Still Concerned?
Well here it is. I found myself counting heads during the service. Why did that matter to me? Is the number of people attending our worship service in any way indicative of God’s blessing?
Well, perhaps – or perhaps not. But one thing’s for sure, counting heads during the worship service is not compatible with Phillipians 4:6. You see, I was anxious – I thought to myself, “How many people are here this morning? Have we reached a new attendance record?”
But after the service over a cup of coffee, one of the visitors gave witness to how much God had blessed the message to his heart. Now this is what matters – it’s about what God is doing in the hearts of men and women that matter.
Thank you Lord for this reminder – and help me to keep my focus on You and what You want to do in my heart. I’ll leave the church building thing to You.
I too concur with your comments and feelings Don. It’s easy to look at numbers and use that as an immediate means of success. For me I’m not concerned if we don’t become a large church… in many respects I like the smaller church congregations as it provides more of a “family feel”.
However my anxieties with numbers come down to people being there to help serve – more of a functional reasoning. For certain ministries to happen, we need people to serve in those areas. There’s only so much multi-tasking people can do. In saying that it’s been such a blessing to see who God has already brought into our church. We’ve been blessed with many very gifted people who have such a passion for Him and are eager to serve. Bit by bit it’s becoming more apparent how God is working amongst us.
The less obvious ways in how He is working may be in the testing of our faith and trust in Him to provide for us. As you said Don, it’s God working in us and in the our church that makes anything successful happen. However our relationship with Him is central to that, and it’s clear from the Scriptures that He doesn’t just hand out everything on a platter. We are called to work hard and trust that He will provide.
These fruits are becoming more evident the church functioning more and more effectively as well as in who is attending, not so much that it’s a numbers game, but rather the quality of people God is blessing us with. To be surrounded by a supportive, God honouring community is one of the greatest blessings and one I am beginning to appreciate more and more at HBC. Our small groups are about to start and already we are seeing a number of new people looking to join which is exciting as it’s an opportunity to develop new relationships.
So as we persevere on let’s try and stay focused on primarily honouring our Lord with all we do at HBC and in time He will bless the church as He sees fit.
I visited the service when Rev Coombs taught Israel in the Wilderness. WHAT A BLESSING that was to me! It’s true — numbers mean very little if anything at all. It just needs a few. The Word will not return to Him void. I hope to visit again soon.