The event at church was scheduled to start in about one hour. I was nervous because we just didn’t seem to have our act together for this one. Everyone on staff, and some volunteers, were all scurrying around at the last minute trying to put materials out and get sound and equipment working. We had several people signed up to attend. But it just kept disturbing me that our human lack of preparation may represent our God poorly.
Like He needs us anyway.
But we cared. We wanted people to be comfortable. To feel welcome and to not have our disorganization impact them having a God moment tonight.
I was praying. Actually it was more like half apologizing to God and half begging Him to show up in spite of us.
We Overcomplicate It
Then I remembered. I remembered what was most important. Jesus was whispering in my head….”It’s simple, don’t overcomplicate things. The important thing is to love God and love others, that is it.”
I realized in that moment that most people coming to the event fell into two categories:
- regular church goers who were coming to be in community and learn more about God,
- newcomers who were looking for community and/or looking for God.
In both instances, each person was seeking love.
We all just want to belong, feel connected, and experience God moments.
Comfortable, Connected and Competent
I felt God telling me that this could be an incredible event in spite of us if I focused on Him, not our abilities. The key to transform this half organized, good intentioned event, into something meaningful for each attendee, was to help them feel completely comfortable, connected, and competent this night.
- Comfortable – we feel comfortable in places where we are loved. We feel at home when someone is generally excited that we personally came. I greeted each person by name and told them how happy I was that they came. And I meant it. Once I quit focusing on our event planning, and started focusing on loving each person who came, they became the ingredient that made the event a God event.
- Connected – we long for connection and community. We need to do life with the body of Christ. In our humanity, it is difficult to show up to a place where we don’t know anyone. Many people won’t venture out to a church event without a companion because they don’t want to feel disconnected, alone in the crowd, or even as extreme as an outcast. I tried to connect each person who came with others they would have something in common with. Either new connected to new, or new connected to someone who was part of the community. I knew our community well and tried to bring people together in meaningful ways.
- Competent – the worst feeling in the world is to show up somewhere and not know what is going on, where you are going, or what you are supposed to do. Whether I go to an event, a friend’s home, or to a doctor appointment, I wanted to know what to expect and what to do. The last thing in the world we want someone coming to a church event to feel is lost, not connected, and therefore, uncomfortable. We made sure that each person knew where they were going and what to expect throughout the evening.
Overall the evening was just perfect.
People met and got to know each other. You know you can tell when there is just that chemistry in the air. The Holy Spirit was present making all of the connections and providing His presence in each person.
People laughed at our mishaps. They shared when we didn’t have enough copies. They didn’t care that the desserts were picked up from Sam’s. And maybe our teaching was not on the caliber of CS Lewis or even Tim Keller.
But God was there and people felt His presence and His love.
It made all of the difference.
In Business, It Also Makes All Of The Difference
In my business, I try to remember this night often. If I have clients coming in, or a meeting to facilitate, or if I just don’t feel quite prepared for the day…..
I remember that it is all about loving God and loving others.
If I can focus on God in the moment, and ask His Holy Spirit to speak and love through me, it will make a bigger impact than all of the preparation, knowledge, and worldly solutions I could muster. (Don’t get me wrong…in business we should still be prepared!)
God’s message of love makes all of the difference in life, in business, and for eternity.
Chery Gegelman says
Beautiful post Sue! I found myself nodding through part of the post relating to your experience and your thoughts, then found myself thinking of the post I wrote today about an experience some friends had as they helped Syrian refugees. Then found myself savoring your points and taking them to heart. Thank you!
Thank you Chery…I probably should have added that I also prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to work/love through me….it makes all of the difference in the world!