Still not feeling great this week. For the second consecutive year an Ohio State National Championship loss coincided with personal illness to make life miserable. As a result, I don't feel much like typing but I have to get some stuff down before I get too far removed. Sunday was an interesting day.
I started a new Sunday morning gig this week. For the past four months or so I was the interim worship leader at my home church. It was great to spend time around old friends who have seen me grow up, but it was time to force them to find a more permanent replacement. It just so happened that an door opened to give me an exit.
Franklin Chapel is a church in Clermont County [New Richmond, to be exact], about 20 miles up river from downtown, where I preached a few months in college. Eventually I'll elaborate on my relationship with this church, but they happened to contact me a month ago asking if I'd come in and preach for them part-time. So I was excited to get things started there this week. Sunday morning service was a little empty.
There were seven people. Including me.
The church has been around for over 150 years and now they're clinging to life. I'm going to preach through April and then we'll reevaluate what needs to happen there. I'm sure I'll have some interesting experiences to share here throughout the months to come.
Then, Sunday night, the gathering at Echo was a look back at 2007 while looking forward to 2008. It was crazy as we had many of our "regulars" still gone but we had about ten visitors. We even had eight kids, more than we've ever had. The dynamic of the room was different as I spoke, but I always get enthusiastic when talking about our vision for Echo, so it was a very good time. After the gathering, we had a food/fellowship time and didn't get home until 9:30.
At the end of the day I was exhausted, but I was energized because of our night at Echo.
As difficult as it has been starting a new church, it is always exciting. We understand that we're always near extinction so we have to be determined to make things happen. Sunday night there was a great vibe at Echo. I'm starting to feel the momentum building, realizing that our hard work is paying off. Sunday morning, at Franklin Chapel, was entirely different. There was a desperation present. The people are beat down, and are looking for anything to get them excited.
Ironically, it wasn't too long ago that there were only seven people at Echo, but we were going forward instead of reverse.
I guess what I'm saying is that I just had a sincere appreciation on Sunday night, after my morning experience, for how far we've come as a church. We're still making mistakes, we haven't experienced considerable growth, but we're released to do an important, exciting ministry that is still new. I'm not sure if Echo will last 150 years, but if it does I pray that it continues to be an exciting place to be.
One of the saddest things to witness is a dying church.
But one of the most exciting things to see is a church beginning to roll.