That’s a picture of my rock. No it’s not a pet rock. Those of you who lived through the 70’s certainly remember that silly phenomena. It’s not really a trophy either. If you’re a long time reader you’ll remember my thoughts on trophies. Click the link below if you want a reminder.
So why do I keep this broken piece of granite? Rhonda will tell you I’m not sentimental. She bemoans the fact that I have none of the letters she wrote me in college (she has all of mine). I’m an OCD, anti-clutter, neat nick, that is quick to toss anything in the name of order and cleanliness. If you remember the 70’s sitcom the “The Odd Couple”, sadly, I’m Felix.
It happened about ten or twelve years ago. Our church had always been a good church; a good pastor, great fellowship, meaningful worship. With the departure of a long time pastor, leadership determined that we should start living our mission, essentially the Great Commission, and become more outreach focused. While we were a good church for the saved, we were a little bit like a lot of churches; not all that different then a Country Club. A place where people who didn’t know the language of our thee’s and thou’s, felt out of place. A place where people with tattoos, piercing’s, or real problems felt unwelcomed, and judged.
We had a new pastor, and a new vision. That’s when I found myself on the Administrative Board. Change is difficult. The Board found itself embroiled in controversy. There were angry and vocal personal attacks, nasty accusations, hurtful letters, and lots of painful meetings. Attorneys were even engaged.
It happened like this. The Pastor and our six member Board met very early one morning in a private room at Perkin’s restaurant. The critical decision of where to go as a church hung in the balance. We were tired, confused, beaten. Some were ready to give up, others wanted to hold fast to the vision we had believed to be God’s call. The truth is all of us were unsure, and on the fence on a critical decision.
The future of the church and its ministry were about to be decided impacting not only the current membership, but people whose names we did not yet know.
At that very second, a small group of about five or six men came into the room. As they gave each of us a rock, they explained that God had laid it on their heart to be there at that time. To pray with us, to support us, to encourage us to hold fast to the vision and to stand firm on the Rock.
There have been a few times in my life where I really felt the presence of God, but certainly no more than in that room, and in that moment. At the precise moment when the future of his church was being decided, God showed up to make sure we didn’t screw it up. God was with us in that room, in his precise timing to make his calling and our decision very clear.
The results? Well, many good people and good friends left the church. It’s not my intent to disparage them in any way. We as a leadership certainly are fallible humans who made plenty of mistakes. There were strong feelings on both sides. Thankfully they formed a new and effective church and many remain my friends.
Sunnybrook has been blessed. While three to four hundred regularly worshipped on a Sunday, our attendance is now several thousand. On Easter this year (2016) we had over five thousand five hundred at our services with an additional one thousand viewing online. Our pastor always made it clear that we are not about numbers. The important thing is a lot of this growth has been from people far from God. People who never went to church, or hadn’t been for a long time. People who had problems, tattoos, piercings, you know, sinners like us. There are life changing testimonies, and new conversions almost every week. Adult baptisms are a regular occurrence, and all because God showed up early one morning at Perkin’s to remind us to rely on him, The Rock.