For those who were at church last night, we probably won’t remember much from the service, but we will remember huddling in a small room in the basement, waiting out a strong thunderstorm and a tornado warning. Just as I was ending the service, we started to hear the tornado sirens, and somebody mentioned that we were under a tornado warning (which is the more series kind). So we cleaned up really quickly and headed down to the church basement to stay safe.
The church basement is really half first-floor, half basement. It has several doors to the lower level parking lot on the south side, but is built into the side of a hill, so there are no windows or doors on the north side. As the storm approached, we moved into an inner room to stay safe. Other than some funny comments from my kids, things were rather uneventful.
There was some video from last year’s tornados in Joplin that I kept thinking about. About a half dozen people were holed up in a beer cooler at a local gas station. You couldn’t see anything on the video, but you could hear the prayers, the cries, the screams. It was intense. Though we were never in serious danger from the storms, I did imagine something like that happening to us. (What can I say? I have an active imagination.)
During the actual service, we covered Jesus’ teaching in Mark 12. We also opened up the floor to those students who were coming back from short-term missions trips the previous week. Becca Lowe shared about her time in Jamaica, how the students there are very bold in their evangelism, and how the campus leaders are excited to have 5 or 6 people show up for their gatherings.
That last point really convicted me, because attendance has been down significantly at church, and that is discouraging to me. While I’m not that interested in building a megachurch, I do want Ember to grow, and I want to see more people entering God’s kingdom. I think we’ve got a good thing going here, and that we bring something unique to the table as far as central Ohio churches go. Hearing that those Jamaican leaders were excited about having 5 or 6 people at their gatherings was really good for me. That’s the perspective I need to have. I need to remember that this isn’t a race or a contest, and that the size of a church doesn’t reflect on the character or calling of its pastor. More importantly, I need to focus on the people that do come to church, what God is doing in their lives, and how I can best serve them, loving them in Jesus’ name.