Saturday, October 27, 2007

When Failure Is Not The Final Word

Last night India Hook's Youth Director, April, coordinated the efforts of several volunteers and transformed the Family Life Center into an attractive Coffee House setting. Couches, comfortable chairs, coffee tables and floor lamps were distributed tastefully over the space occupied by a basketball court. All of this was part of an effort to give teenagers a place to gather following the Northwestern-South Pointe football game. There were plenty of adults standing by, refreshments and music were there too. Publicity came from signs around town and flyers at both schools. We were ready for the gathering of teenagers.

Except, no one beyond the fellowship of India Hook came. Other than about eight of our own youth, it was a gathering for the adults who came to help. Perhaps the church is located too far out for weary football fans to gather at 10:30 after a long game. It seemed a great deal of effort went into something that did not bear fruit.

I should say that it did not bear the fruit that was intended. Regardless of the number of youth there, as I looked around the room I saw something else happening. April had gotten several adults to volunteer; adults that might not normally cross paths in the ebb and flow of church life. As they waited for the youth to come, these adults talked and laughed and played board games together. They started or nurtured relationships--- they made a connection. They even talked of setting up the Family Life Center in the same comfortable, high quality way for the Church Christmas party in December. When we did have youth present later in the night, the adults played Monopoly, cards, and air hockey with them. Again, relationships were made and nurtured. In these days when so much of what we do is based on numbers, technology, and successfully getting things done, perhaps it is nights like last night at the Family Life Center that remind us why we are here (and what is truly important). Good things happened last night, even if was not what we had in mind. As the old saying goes..."and a good time was had by all."

April and the volunteers cast the Gospel seed, and it took root in unexpected ways. Failure is not the primary word claimed by Christians. Faithful is a word we treasure. God is faithful to us in ways we do not always see or plan. We are faithful to God when we continue to be avenues of care and connection to others through Christ especially when we live in a culture that says stop trying because things don't work out like we want , or they are risky or disappointing.

There are other ways India Hook can uniquely reach the youth of our area in meaningful ways. May we continue to sow the seeds of the Gospel until we find those ways. Perhaps along the way the unintended fruit blessed by God will emerge and the community and the church will be the better for it.


April said...

I agree! Thank You for the nice Blog!
A great time was truly had by all! I cannot wait til we all get together again! Our Fall Festival was a success too!! Thanks Joseph!!

Roadtripray said...

I had a similar experience at another church in the area with an attempt at a Friday night youth "hangout" following a football game. It's tough to get kids to come to something like that. Maybe some kids have parents that expect them home a reasonable amount of time after the game, and the other kids are more likely to go anywhere but church.

But I do think your experience points out that many times God provides in ways we don't expect. I think it's very important to be able to look for God's work in ways we don't plan for. I'm glad you are able to see blessings, even when they weren't exactly the blessings you were striving for. That's something I hope to be better about.