Last weekend I had two very different experiences at Portstewart Baptist Church, the new church where we have come to serve.
On Friday night there was a BBQ, the aim of which was to welcome our family and the family of the new Youth Pastor. In spite of very heavy rain, we were amazed to see almost 200 people come out to enjoy fun and games together and to share a meal. This is a church which knows how to have fun and where the people just enjoy hanging out together. I witness that each Saturday morning at ‘The Rock’, the church coffee shop, when anyone is welcome to come in for coffee and amazing scones (my favourite are the white chocolate and raspberry!) – but when it is obvious that members of the congregation regularly hang out together, just because they enjoy one another’s company. Isn’t this a mark of an authentic Christian community?
Then last Saturday morning I attended a ‘Prodigals’ Prayer meeting’. The nature of the prayer meeting was self-explanatory – we had come together to pray for those who have wandered from their faith and from the Lord. I had planned to pop in to check out the prayer meeting and then go on to The Rock for my coffee (and white chocolate and raspberry scone!) – but I couldn’t leave the prayer meeting. Men and women were pouring out their hearts before the Lord, crying to the Good Shepherd to go after His lost sheep – no matter who they were, those related to them and those hardly known to them. I felt I was treading on holy ground and was filled with a deep sense of respect and awe for these people who were praying with such passion and compassion in their hearts.
This is a church which knows how to have fun together and how to be serious together – they know when to have fun and when to be serious – they can laugh together (and laugh at themselves) and they can cry together.
Is this not another mark of an authentic Christian community?