It was a time of transition. Our church had gone through another transition. It was a painful one, as transitions can be. Many people were disillusioned. Some people left the church. Others wondered if they should leave too. People wondered if the church was going to survive this particular transition. Opinions abounded. Morale was low.
In the midst of the transition some of us felt that we should get a group of people together to listen to the Lord in prayer and see what He had to say to us. This was not our normal way of doing things. We planned. We strategized. We invested financial resources. We hoped the Lord would bless our well-made plans.
It took a long time to assemble the group. I don’t know what took us that long. It was a chaotic time. In the end I had a short-list of 8-10 people. I don’t know why the list wasn’t longer. It seemed like these were the people that the Lord had highlighted for this task.
Out of the 8-10 invited members, most with a significant length of time at the church, only 5-6 showed up. I remember there being several empty chairs in the circle. Some people trickled in.
I explained the purpose of the meeting. These were not people who were seasoned in hearing the Lord. They did have a heart for the church and were committed to the church. We took some time to be silent and listen to what the Lord might have to say regarding where we were at and where we would go next. After a time of silence and listening, I asked people to share. Crickets. Nobody said anything. I don’t remember how I got the first person to share something. Everyone was rather unsure of this exercise. I think they were even less sure of what they heard and even more unsure of what others would think if they shared what they thought they did hear.
Some of the words were negative. Some of the words were questions and I could not tell whether the questions came from God or were questions circulating in people’s minds. Two people had a word about the same ministry: youth ministry. One stated the word in the form of a problem that we had. Another simply stated the words: “youth group.”
It was laughable really, when you thought about it. The church was predominantly gray-haired and the last youth pastor had just resigned. There was not much of a youth group. Why would the Lord be speaking about the youth group? It was the only common element in the scattered words we had. I concluded the meeting with saying that the Lord was speaking about our youth ministry. That’s all we had.
Long story short. The church hired a youth pastor who is doing a phenomenal job in the midst of this graying congregation. The people rallied around him and the group is growing.
By Ralph Veenstra
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