Monday started rough. We began another adult small group a while back on Monday afternoons at one of our guys apartments. We would usually have 4-6 people but no one really "connected" and it was often a different 4-6 people every week. We restarted it a couple weeks ago but it has just been me and the guy whose apartment we meet at. Not bad, but not effective. I think the host of the Monday group is going through a lot of personal struggles and I'm seriously praying about pulling the plug on it and encouraging him to reconnect with our other group for a while. That feels like backward movement? I'm just not sure.
Then comes Friday. I think Becca Hurst might disagree with me when I say Friday was good. I know she was thankful for it, but it was much harder for her than it was for me. To be honest, the girls we are reaching can be the most self-centered and obnoxious group I've ever been around in my life. That's hard for the one (Becca) who is pouring her life into them. I'll give you a brief example of what we see most weeks.
The way our student gathering works is we eat dinner together and then we all meet together in a large group for a teaching time and then we break up into guys and girls groups for discussion. Right now we have more girls than guys by far, but the guys are actually a great deal more reserved than the girls. Well, this past Friday when I was teaching in the large group, one of the girls who was wearing huge baggy sweatpants, sagging them like you would see many guys do, and a tank top reached into her bag while I was teaching out of 2 Timothy 2 and pulled out a stick of deodorant. She preceded to raise her hand as if to ask a question but instead she applied her sweat guard right there for everyone to witness. How do you keep teaching during that? How does everyone keep from being distracted? How can God be glorified during that? Only the grace of Jesus!
We went on from that and the Word was spoken. Being the teacher, I have the blessing of being able to look into everyone's eyes and know that while a few were in another world, the majority were engaged this week. Both small groups bore some fruit but the girls was also a continuation of the distracting challenge I just described. Pray for our students. Pray that they would catch the fire that is the Holy Spirit. Pray for myself and Becca. Pray that we would trust the sovereign working of our Lord Jesus in the midst of "deodorant" distractions!
Sunday was what made the week truly great! I know it is the first day of the week but for me in many ways it is the end of the week. We had a great group, somewhere around 12 or 13 people but that is not what made it good. The goodness came from the fruit that we saw and the evidence that at least some of our people are finally starting to "get-it!" Every week (not Sunday to Sunday... but almost everyday of every week) we emphasize, teach and challenge people that the Kingdom of God will not grow until they begin reproducing themselves... simply taking the gospel and what they've learned about it and sharing it with others. We also continue to remind them that the church isn't just a place you go on Sunday. We should be there for each other everyday of the week and available to meet each others needs as well as the needs of the people in our community.
Well, an example of reproduction is Anthony. Anthony is 15 or 16 years old and he is always sharing the gospel and inviting people to The Pathway. It doesn't matter if the person is 5 years old or 50 Anthony will invite them. Well this week he invited to our adult Bible study (remember, he is a student) a homeless man he had met the previous week. It was awesome to see that man come, share some of his story and admit that although he acknowledges God he has not been a part of a church in a very long time.
We also have a man named Orlando who has recently become a part of our church. I am constantly telling him that he can call on our church to help others who have needs. He took me up on it this week and introduced us to a friend of a friend who was in the hospital and all alone. Kelli and I both were able to go visit this woman and as a result both Orlando's friend Maryanne and her friend Deborah who had been in the hospital came to The Pathway on Sunday. It is a beautiful picture of God's church in action and it had nothing to do with me or our leadership and everything to do with the Spirit of God.
An awesome side note is that two of the 3 new faces at The Pathway are homeless. God continues to remind me that homeless does not equal unredeemable. The third has been clean and sober for a little over a year now and is vocal about the role Gods grace has played in her transformation.