On Sunday, I was leading the League of Church Loyalty Service in church where we give prizes out for the children's church attendance and traditionally the youngest Sunday School group (ages 4-7) help to lead it.
I always dread leading services, mostly for the "preaching" part of it. Really I've never had any training or guidance on how to do it, so all I have to go on is what I've learnt by observing others and any time I spoke in university it was a little like this:
Photo found on http://youblog.typepad.com via Google images
Also usually the service I'm given are the family services, which I'm more than happy with I don't think I'd want to preach a "normal" service anytime soon anyways, but this means that I've to try and keep the message understandable for everyone and interactive for the younger children who are used to leaving part way through the service. This worries me sometimes because by trying to keep the message simple and understandable yet applicable for all ages can be quite tricky and I often feel like I'm lousy at speaking because of this. Sunday was one of those times. On Saturday night I was going over my 3 little talks and cringing, it just all sounded rubbish in my head, but I prayed that God would take my rubbishness and use it to his advantage.
So Sunday morning came and the service went well but i felt it could have been better, really though I was just glad it was over. I went to the door with the minister to shake hands with people as they left church and lots of people complimented the service saying how much they'd enjoyed it. It kind of irritated me, I mean it's great that people enjoy church but did they connect with God? Did they grow in their faith? Were they challenged? Was God the centre of what had happened? My interpretation of "I really enjoyed the service" or "That was lovely" was that they had only looked to their own interests and what makes them happy. Did it make God happy? Did he enjoy it and think it was lovely? Is it OK to think of church as just lovely? I also was looking for a little constructive criticism, but it wasn't going to happen.
Sunday morning disappeared and I rushed off to my next thing in the afternoon forgetting all about the service. I hadn't even thought about it really until today at our church lunch group when so many of the folk there were so thankful for the service, for a great message that they felt they needed reminded of, a few who weren't there on Sunday had said how they'd heard all about the service from others and were sorry to not have been there and even someone who said they were glad they understood it straight away. I felt encouraged that people were still thinking about it and talking about it, how often do people talk about the Sunday service after it's over? And the fact that they were telling others about it really encouraged me too.
I'm not just encouraged personally but also that people haven't just enjoyed the service, but got more out of it than a warm fuzzy feeling. God really can use a mess to bring about his purpose!
Preacher cartoon found on http://www.timshen.truepath.com via Google Images