Today, we launched our 9AM Service. When my alarm went off at little after 6AM, I wondered, "Just who's idea was this to have a 9AM Service anyway?" Oh, yeah... Mine.
I hoped that we would have at least 80 people show up for the early service, so that it would feel like we had a crowd. We had 109. And it was a great service! (And as a bonus, Janice wheeled her wheel chair over by where the backup singers sing, and they handed her her old mic! Then they all got down on the floor level next to the platform with her, and Janice sang backup with the team in the early service! Yea, God!)
Then I wondered how many people would show up for the 11AM Service! We had been having about 220 or so people attend our "one" 11AM Service for the past several weeks... would we really have 111 people attend and give us a virtual 50/50 split between the two services? We had 132. Whoa!
Earlier in the week, I had removed approximately 30% of the chairs from the sanctuary so that it wouldn't "feel" empty with the reduced number of people in the building for each service, but our first week's numbers indicate we're already at 70-75% capacity of our seating! (The experts tell us it's difficult to grow beyond 80% of your seating capacity). I've already got to put chairs back in the sanctuary!
The XA (Chi Alpha) Team from Tulane and UNO was with us this morning too! Matthew and Jennifer DeGier, and Christine Thrower took 10 minutes to talk about the exciting ministry opportunities that were already happening with the start of the new school year! (Man, I love XA! If God had not called me to pastor Life Fellowship, I would hope that he would call me to be a part of XA!)
We survived both services, (my voice almost didn't survive... I was a bit sick Friday and Saturday), and despite a couple of minor oversights, our Dream Team of volunteers, once again made the dream of Life Fellowship a reality! (I've just got to remember to be sure we have orange juice and some bagels and bananas for them between services! They worked hard and need nourishment!!! Two services make for a long morning!)
I spent the rest of the afternoon preparing materials for our Discovery 301 Growth Track class, and about 5PM the sound of excited children filled our halls as our Children's Christmas Musical practices launched. A few of the parents helped me finish put together the last of the materials and we waited to see who would make it to class. As 6PM rolled around, the auditorium filled with adult students! Would you believe it? Once again I didn't prepare enough materials! I had prepared for 30, but we had closer to 40 students show up! We scrambled to put together several more packets, and started the class. (I told a couple of people that I've been operating as the pastor of a small church for so long, that I hardly know how to act when larger crowds show up!) Anyhow, we made it, and the class was fun!
After class, several in the group headed to Wendy's for a bite, but before I could leave, I had one more opportunity for ministry. That young man I told you about... he came back for our 301 class too. And he needed a little extra time. So we sat. And talked. And cried. And then we got down on our knees and prayed. And when we got up, I could see it in his face... Jesus had touched him. I could see the strength, courage, and hope return to his eyes. He gave me a big hug, and we agreed to get together again, as often as he needed, this week.
And finally, we turned out the lights and headed to Wendy's. Cyndi and I laughed and celebrated and rejoiced over all God had done, and was doing. I mentioned to Cyndi, "I am having the greatest time of my life."
By the time we made it to Wendy's most of the group had finished their meals and moved on to frostys. Cyndi and I ended up sitting at a table adjacent to the group, where we had just the perfect view of what was like our own version of a Norman Rockwell painting. Adults and children, seniors and infants, eating and laughing, talking and playing, joking and encouraging... it was a magical moment to end a wonderful day. 14 hours of the most inspiring and energizing people on the planet!