My God! I just realized that I had a good week! It has been so long, I almost didn't recognize it.
I was dreading last night's finance meeting. Like everywhere else, money is scarcer and it looks like it will be worse before it gets better. But I have some pretty smart guys working at this, and they've got some ideas on how to keep us up and running.
But at the end of the meeting, after we had officially adjourned, nobody got up. They became excited about the work they were doing. Money had raised for food for a homeless ministry. The youth are helping the elderly. The children are collecting canned goods. A mission trip to Mexico is being planned. Project after project was mentioned.
What's really amazing is that usually this kind of talk makes the money guys anxious. But they weren't. They were excited about the possibilities.
The week before, I had told many of them that even if we had to scale down our spending, we shouldn't let anxiety steer us away from the mission of helping others. Whatever we had coming in needed to be used for service, not self preservation. Did they actually listen?
Earlier in the week someone came to me for real ministerial help rather than to complain about something at church. And maybe, just maybe I said something that actually helped.
Before then, I met with the guy who is my boss in our denomination. I reported that both attendance and giving was down, which was not surprising to him or me. I told him how frustrated I was at coming to a church that was obligated to pay off a lavish new building when there were so many poor people needing help. It made me mad and uncomfortable every time I entered my own office.
He smiled. He actually seemed pleased. He thought my discomfort was a good thing. He suggested perhaps I was moved to this church to help them change direction. And perhaps I should not worry about the numbers so much and focus on direction. That's what I had been doing, but I didn't know if he would understand that. Most people don't.
I also confessed to him that I was having a hard time liking these people and that I missed my old church. He said I needed to quit trying to like them and to focus on the job. That helped. He also said I needed to find some interests outside the church. Maybe blogging?
The Sunday after my meeting with him, the attendance was back up, and my preaching had a little more zip to it.
It's only now, when I've had a few moments to sit and think, that I see that it really has been a good week. And maybe just maybe there's some hope.