I wrote over on my family's blog about our recent decision to leave our church in Charlotte to pursue service in our hometown of Harrisburg. But I just wanted to share a little bit about how God made our last service there so rewarding and uplifting. Our prayer for Plaza has always been for its success as a church. But that's even more the case now as we leave that assembly and, in doing so, take our service energies and gifts with us. I mean, we have absolutely no delusions of being key to the success of that church, but practically speaking we've reduced the labor force there by some amount. And so our prayer is, "God, make that church flourish, if only as a clear reminder to us that Plaza is Yours, and that we are nothing but tools at Your disposal."
I was praying that prayer particularly hard prior to this past Sunday morning's service. I knew that the plan for the service involved some things that aren't typical. For one, I would be leading the "Praise and Worship" service segment with the electric guitar instead of the acoustic, which has never gone over very well there. Secondly, I knew that Amy and I would be announcing our departure, and doing so during a brand new "Family Time" segment of the service. Change, change, change all around, at a place historically hostile to such. But where I would have forecast disaster, God brought Himself to the party instead in a visible way.
Our Bible study class had a visitor, which is a somewhat rare event. After that class, we met still more visitors in the hallway. Four of the missionaries that the church supports happened to be in town and in attendance this week, and I later found out that of the twenty-some missionaries the church supports, my dad had wanted to speak with exactly those four people about a time-sensitive matter and was completely surprised to see them all there and on the same day, even. There was a spirit of happiness and hope in the air. Just prior to the service, I was standing outside the sanctuary getting some fresh air (I always feel like the heat is set too high in that building). I was approached by a dear lady who said to me matter-of-factly that our departure was no surprise to her — God had laid it on her heart a couple of weeks ago that we would soon be leaving in obedience to Him.
For the P&W segment of the service, I did something a little different. I asked that the house lights be turned down, and that the congregation engage in free worship. I wasn't going to ask them to stand, to sit, to sing, to listen, or to do anything except worship as they saw fit to worship. Wanna bang a drum? Come get it. Hiding a tambourine in your purse? Play it. Wanna lift your hands? Lift 'em. Wanna dance? Go for it. But by all means, focus on God instead of on the band. And you know? Many seemed to do exactly that. I felt like I was witnessing uninhibited worship for the first time in … well, in a very long time. And that atmosphere persisted through the entirety of the service.
I don't know what plans God has for Plaza Baptist Church. But I have to believe that if the spirit — or more accurately, the Spirit — that was present there this past Sunday morning sticks around, revival will come to that place.