The snow shower that hit on Saturday night morphed into a full-blown blizzard by Sunday morning. People with a lick of sense took one look out their windows and decided to stay home from church. People without a lick of sense decided to brave the elements and go.
That Sunday morning only a tiny handful of believers showed up. The preacher, having a lick of sense, was not among them, which meant that one of the members without a lick of sense would need to fill in. No one wanted to, but finally an old gentlemen with no theology training beyond what he heard every week in church volunteered to say a few words.
As you might expect, the impromptu sermon was a rambling, jumbled mess, which is why everyone was so surprised when a young boy responded to it by giving his life to Christ. Surely, he wasn’t just trying to make the old man feel better, was he?
That young boy preached 600 sermons before he was 20 years old. He became one of the most popular preachers in history, speaking to an estimated 10 million people during his lifetime. He led a mega-church over 100 years before the term was even coined. He founded a college and a charity, and became one of the most prolific Christian authors in history. His collected sermons fill 63 volumes, making it the largest set of books by a single author in the history of Christianity.
The young boy’s name?
Who would have thought that a snowy Sunday morning church service with only a handful of people and a bumbling substitute preacher would have such an impact?
As a self-confessed perfectionist (See my book, Let It Go), I have been known to obsess over the details of a church service, to groan when something goes wrong, and to want to strangle people who show up less than fully prepared. I now realize that while excellence should be a goal and we should be well prepared when we serve, God can and often does use less-than-ideal circumstances and feeble efforts to do great things.
This coming Sunday there will be slick, professionally rendered worship experiences in dynamic churches all across the country. In other churches there will be less talented (but equally devoted) people rendering tedious sermons and off-key music. We might all be surprised if we could know which would eventually have the biggest impact for the kingdom.
All you perfectionists out there, remember: God does not depend on our polish and professionalism to move his kingdom forward.
For further reflection read Job 11:7 and Romans 11:33.