My day job requires quite a bit of travel and this gives good time to reflect and evaluate what I do. I don’t mean that I navel gaze and become self obsessed but rather I try and reflect so that I may learn and grow as a Christian.
My work with The Light Project as founding evangelist leads me to places far and wide to teach and train. Each journey affords opportunity to meet new people or ponder… Or both. This very blog is being written on my phone as I enjoy a slow moving train heading to Edinburgh where I shall be teaching for the weekend. As I travel I’m thinking about the last Big Hearted Tour in the South East, which was the busiest of the 13 tours and yes, there was a sense of ‘the best till the last’ about it.
So I’m musing on what made this last one stand out amongst the others and what have I learnt?
Well, firstly and I guess I should be used to it by now, I was genuinely amazed how many Baptists responded to the challenges and tasks of the workshops so enthusiastically in this bit of the tour. This past weekend time and time again people reflected on ‘going out’ to meet people and were surprised how they had met people who wanted to hear and engage with good news. One lady in Godalming joined 25 others by leaving the safe confines of the Sunday morning service to join a team out on the streets and ended up praying for a lady who had a sore shoulder. As she did so she encountered the presence of God right there on the streets of a sleepy town where they stood! This took both of them by surprise.
The way we share good news determines how it is received. If it is shared angrily, judgementally or without integrity it becomes something that isn’t good, and the news bit becomes propositions that cant find a home to connect with other hearts or a sales patter with slickness instead of heart-felt genuine love filled news.
This last part of the tour I saw more people than ever from local churches seeking to share what they know and love as truth with those who hadn’t been graced with the opportunity to hear it.
Secondly, I am reflecting on numbers. Over the year I have spoken to well over 4000 people who connected with or did big hearted things. Sounds impressive? Not if you consider I have spoken at 120 different events. That means an average of 33 people joined in each one… I certainly wasn’t inundated with crowds at all! The best illustration of this reflection on numbers was at my very last event was attended by 7 people and two left early! I felt God speak through ‘the 5’ at my last event. I was tired and cream-crackered from the travel and amount of speaking and quite frankly I was just about to say: ‘let’s cancel as there isn’t enough people to run this training afternoon.’ Phew, I’m so pleased I didn’t. You see numbers do measure success to some extent, but when it comes to faith sharing success needs to be measured by a grace yard stick.
Those who took part lapped up the ideas like I have never seen and went for it with the practical projects… since then they have done similar projects again and again and again! Moreover, our simple efforts on the day meant we met people who saw and heard good news, perhaps for the first time.
If I tried to add up the numbers now from the 5 of people experiencing something of the big hearted tour I would loose count! These 5 have carried on and multiplied the efforts of what seemed a last failing training session.
Lastly, I’m reflecting on the use of art in assessing this past year. Instead of talking of the year in our coming baptist assembly I’m going to show the year through an art piece, a poem and a short film tracing the year… This not only should convey something of my once in a lifetime experience but I’m also experiencing something quite profound personally as I reflect in this way. Art seems to spark thankfulness in me for the year as well as a sense of moving on now that I will soon move on from this honoured role. Doing something creative unlocks the lessons learnt and moves me on to something new. Here is the initial outline of a poem and art piece that I’m making this week…