One of the things that has never bothered me is ‘numbers’. Historically, numbers were always a ‘proof’ that a church was doing well, and if we were in small churches, for me at least, as a leader of one, it was occasionally embarrassing! I remember, donkey’s years back, when I was in a church of about 60, being at a conference with a lot of international speakers and delegates, when, horror of horrors, the speaker at a seminar told us to talk to someone we didn’t know….as most of the delegates were pastors, the imminent threat of numbers was bound to rear its head…
I was sitting a couple of seats away from a man with his name badge suggesting he was Spanish – Miguel Escobar – and as I wasn’t aware of ‘much going on’ in Spain at that time, I felt that threat was less of a problem. But, he got in first with the hello, how are you, where are you from stuff…. then ‘and how many people are in your church?’. Always, before admitting to numbers, the excuses – reasons? – for smallness came first. Then it was my turn. Where are you from? Chile. Phew! Can’t be much happening there, I’d studied Chile for Geography A level, and, apart from it’s bizarre shape (over 2500 miles long, and an inch wide!), all I could remember was that they exported seagull droppings. Phosphates, to be more accurate, and with such a long coastline comes a lot of seagulls. What city? Jotabeche. Even better, not Santiago, the capital. What sort of church? Methodist. Wow! I’m ok!! Methodist. Can’t be much happening with methodism in a pretty much catholic country…. How many people? 450,000…. the feeling of utter insignificance, ignominy, and embarrassment was intense.
I determined after that – more accurately when I began to travel, that numbers would mean nothing. One year I had a ‘team’ of 4 come here – to discover that we were speaking to a YWAM school….of 3! Great couple of weeks!
Tonight was a home group – cell group, whatever your fancy: about a dozen. Lovely evening, it really was. Three were healed, including a lady, Rebecca, who’d got arthritis in her lower spine, and that in turn caused extreme pain in her left leg. All the pain went, which suggests that the spine was healed, too. Another lady, Linda, suffered – among other things – with an inner ear balance issue: she was very dizzy and unsteady as she sat down. She was healed. Some will know tomorrow, others only when they’re next scanned or tested, but one was a lady with thrombosis in both legs: I’m totally convinced she’s healed. And another, who’ll know tonight when she does her diabetes test….
So, so lovely. Informal, calm, and the Presence of the Lord.