This morning my church excelled themselves, and hopefully I did too, as we extended a ‘Big Welcome’ for Back to Church Sunday.
My faith is too small at times like this! I live in fear that none of the invited guests will come along, despite my constant reminders to my congregation that it is our task to invite and the Holy Spirit’s role to get people there. Yet, as a preacher, you can’t help feeling that your inspiring, humorous and challenging message (that’s the plan, anyway) will fall a bit flat if it is only the usual congregation in attendance.
Well, it went brilliantly! Joel led the service extremely well, the music group sounded great, the welcome team were on top form, the sermon went well, the congregation laughed in the right places and the hall where we had tea, coffee and cake afterwards was packed out. I have totted up at least a dozen guests who came due to our invitation, and I have a feeling that I may have missed some. I have reports of at least seven of the guests saying that they will come again. Add to these the new family that came along for the third week running, the return of several members after illness and the arrival at the end of the service of a Latvian couple who were put in touch with me by Hope Now in Latvia, and it was an extremely good morning.
So my faith is small but God’s faithfulness is huge. I’d like to have more faith, and occasions such as this morning do bring an increase. Yet I’ll always be grateful for Jesus’ response to the disciples who asked why they could not help a man who was afflicted with seizures. "Because you're not yet taking God seriously," said Jesus. "The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a poppy seed, say, you would tell this mountain, 'Move!' and it would move. There is nothing you wouldn't be able to tackle." (Matthew 17:20, The Message).
A mere kernel of faith can be used by God – isn’t that great? There is nothing we will not be able to tackle – even inviting people to Back to Church Sunday, and letting God do the rest!