This is a question that often arises when hope seems thin. When energy runs low and we wonder about how wisely we are spending each hour we search for results and indicators of success. This is no different in ministry. At times there are so many demands on our time that some activities do not seem like good stewardship. It is at times like these that I need to remember that we do not always see the fruits of our labour.
Today, I had a beautiful conversation with a man at Tea Chat in Augusta. Carers and the elderly from around town come to have morning tea in our church every Thursday. I spend my morning making cups of tea and coffee and sitting chatting to people. Most of the time the conversations are around the weather, families or something that has happened in town. Occasionally, the words cut straight through the layers to some deeper level. This happened today.
I sat down next to this gentleman and straight away he told me there was something he wanted to tell me. "I feel very comfortable in this building", he said. "I feel comfortable talking to you even though you are a minister." He proceeded to explain how his ability to feel calm and peaceful in a church setting again had seen him attend the Catholic church last Sunday after 30 years away.
I asked him how he found it. It was like coming home. It felt good. At this point, I could have turned bitter that he had not chosen to come to our church. Instead my heart felt warmed. I had never dreamt that providing tea and scones would lead to someone returning to their faith tradition after so many years. It was never about gaining people for our church, but about relationship that leads to wholeness.
What's the point? Maybe we will never know. We can only plant seeds in faith.