You would think after pastoring a church for more than six years I would have my finger on its pulse. Most of the time, I feel like I do, but I totally missed it this weekend. For reasons we can't explain, Catalyst has seen a surge of growth this summer. We had this happen a few years ago just after we opened our facility, but most summers have been spent just hanging on.
We started a second service on Easter Sunday and felt like it may be a struggle to keep them both feeling full enough through the summer, but that has not been the case at all. We have seen weekly attendance settle in around 160-175 per Sunday and I was sure that Labor Day would be a really low Sunday. Why was I so sure? Because holidays usually hit us hard...Because the 4th of July was a ghost town at Catalyst and in hindsight wished we had combined the two services for the holiday weekend.
So, we advertised a "Back to School" bash complete with our very own Dr. Feinstein making a special appearance with a new experiement. We rented a big inflatable waterslide and provided a fried chicken, beans, and potato salad lunch hoping to lure some of our families to church instead of the lake.
We had prepared food for 150 thinking that would be a great number for the day. Well, what do you know? 211 men, women, and children decided come and experience the Back to School Bash at Catalyst. We had every chair we could find crammed in the worship space and our elementary kids had special seats right up front so they could enjoy the music and special guest teacher.
We had a PR (Public Relations) band, Remedy, in from our regional Nazarene college, Southern Nazarene University that did a bang up job leading worship and the always unpredictable Dr. Feinstein kept everyone, including me, on our toes for every moment of his appearance. It seemed that everyone from the youngest kid to the oldest adult had a great time.
I had a few "take aways" as I have reflected on this day:
- Catalyst is full of people with servant hearts: I could not even begin to list everyone that pitched in to make the day run smoothly. We had people that hosted college students in their homes, helped prepare food during the service, set-up, serve, and tear-down the meal. Folks who stood in the sun and made sure kids didn't maul one another on the waterslide. We had some of our own bring their snow cone concession out for the event and refused to take any money.
- I can't predict what God is up to: After 14 years in ministry it is easy to think that I know what is going to happen in our church. God continually reminds me that I have no idea what he is up to and how he is working.
- It is fun not being in charge of everything: I had several people ask me how they could pitch in after the service and my answer was, "I honestly have no clue, I am in charge of nothing at this point." I was able to mingle and talk with folks and even took a few trips down the waterslide. I could never have done these things if I had my hands in everything that happened Sunday.