The Spirit Is Working
Sunday after service, a long-time member came up to me and said, “Wow, the Holy Spirit was really working this morning. Something is happening in our congregation. It feels like the days when we were worshiping in the gym!”
For those of you who have come since 1994 (the last time we worshipped in the gym), that comment might be a little cryptic. Let me translate for you.
In those days, we had to set up and tear down everything every Sunday. 600 chairs, platform, choir risers and shell, grand piano, organ—everything had to go up and come down every week. There was a feeling of excitement, growth, and a real “can-do” spirit. The chairs used to be so squeaky that we had to program “space” into the service after sitting down before anyone spoke—otherwise, the words could not be heard over the howls of the chairs.
At the core of this special feeling, I think, was the sense of warmth and welcome that everyone shared and experienced. Our church was growing, new people—especially families who were drawn to our new children’s ministry facilities—were coming in by the scores. Every Chapel Hill veteran had to be on the alert to welcome and direct those new folks, and everyone was eager to do so. It was one of the sweetest seasons of my ministry here.
I think that spirit is back! I have noticed the buzz before and after services as our “Guerilla Greeters” make a point of reaching out to strangers. I’ve noticed the attendance jump as people have been looking for opportunities to invite friends, screwed up their courage, and done so! And I’ve noticed a greater sense of spontaneity during the service—including a flash-mob of high-schoolers rushing the stage and dancing during one song last week!
This spirit of fun and welcome will be doubly felt this weekend as we host Festival of Hope, our free-trade market here at Chapel Hill. You will love the vibe and you won’t mind knocking out some of your Christmas shopping either, with all the proceeds going to a great cause.
And just for fun, I’m going to preach the most dangerous sermon of my ministry. Not on predestination or hellfire and damnation or sexuality. Nope. I’m going to talk about pews. Where we sit. How we sit. And what it has to do with being a welcoming church. I know, I know—talk about poking the bear. But I think it will be fun!
See you this weekend! Bring someone along and say hi to someone new!
P.S.—If you are one of the hundreds of first-time visitors in recent months or if you’ve been a visitor to Chapel Hill for years, please consider coming to our Membership Class this Sunday, 10:00 am. in the Youth Diner (downstairs by the gym). Pastor Larry and I will share our mission, vision, and values, and invite you to become an “official” member of the Chapel Hill family.