Some people who keep up with me may be wondering if I have an update on East Rock Community Church.
For my part, I have two dilemmas (or mistakes) that I'd like to amend: (1) To schedule more time to work with the people whom God has given us some influence; (2) That I'd started with a few more committed Christians with whom we could share the work and increase our circles of influence.
That being said, I love it! I love working with people! We are finding that the new believers that God has sent among us are growing. We are also finding that God is sending us a few baby Christians and a few others who are trying to find a place to be accepted and comfortable.
Speaking of comfortable, I preach the same everywhere. I DO use different language depending on my audience, such as speaking with less "churchy" words in front of less churchy people. However, I speak with the same passion and forthrightness in front of every audience. You say, "What's this have to do with 'comfortable'?" Simply this, I preached a tough message at a local church not too long ago and people walk by me -- you know, the preacher at the door routine -- and say, one after the other, "I enjoyed that." I think to myself, I don't know that I was looking for you to "enjoy" that. I never hear that at East Rock. I mean this as a compliment to the people. I see them struggling to grow in faith. I see them struggling against their own flesh. I see some succumbing to it. I am not talking only about "them" as if there are some that are more "spiritual". I am talking about "them" as "us". There is an openness and humility that I really enjoy. There is an expectation of change in the air.
I mean, hey, it's great if the service is enjoyable. It's great if you are encouraged. It's great if God gives you joy. But, and believe me on this, when you come before the Lord, it's not about your comfort or how much you enjoy something; it's about Him working to make you into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). That's not always fun and rarely is it easy. Let me illustrate it this way: One man in our midst recently was "done wrong" by a supposed friend. He'd helped this man strictly upon the basis of the teaching he is receiving at ERCC. The man wounded our East Rock friend and our friend was really hurt. He was convinced that he would never want to do this "Christian *&%^#%@" again. He was also convinced that his peace was stolen and that he could never forgive the other man. A sermon spoke to our friend's heart and began to both heal his pain and speak into his anger. After church one evening, we laid hands on our friend and prayed mightily for him. It was a very cool event that showed that a sermon is not always enjoyable, but it can bring joy through breaking and healing.
So, what am I getting at? I like where we are, but am not satisfied. I like our people's reactions to how God is moving. Yes, I want more people. Yes, I look forward to the day when there are more workers in the field AND more people to work with. Yes, I see God moving. Yes, I see people receiving. Pray for us.