It sometimes feels like two of my great loves are aging fast and in danger of extinction. Look around any county cricket ground and the age profile will have you fearing for the future of the four day county championship. Visit a lot of churches and its even more worrying. And in the church we don't the option of selling hospitality packages in marquees.
The follow up to the Mission Rescue Holiday Club has been very encouraging: record numbers of Primary School kids at our Friday club, more than ever in Lighthouse Club on Sunday Morning and plenty of interest in the magician / comedian we have booked for Saturday evening.
Like plenty of churches we have a lack of people of my generation and the generation below it. Which means that, not far shy of fifty, I am one of the younger people in my church. A bizarre thought. So I confess to some excitement that a couple of younger couples with families have just announced that they want to join us. It feels like we are beginning to take small steps of growth.
But then a loved and valued family announced that after seven years with us they are going to go somewhere else. They handled it really well but its still a blow. Two steps forward, one back?
We part as friends and I'll still see lots of him, for a start he works in a sandwich shop down the road. Last Sunday they came for the last time and it gave us the chance to thank them publicly and pray for their blessing as they begin the next stage of their journey. It gives everyone the chance to hear why they are leaving, that we part as family who still love each other, and, of course, people get to say goodbye. Something I learned from a wiser pastor a few years ago, it was good way to round things off.
My fear is the couples just joining will be discouraged by one of their own leaving. You need a few people of that age if others of that age are to stick. In the lead up to the service I did begin to wonder about the wisdom of what I was doing, even though I was pretty sure it was the right thing to do.
I need not have worried. We are eating with one of the couples after the service and they compare us favourably with their previous larger, far groovier church, saying that they didn't think the leaving of a family would have been handled like that where they were from.
I'm humbled. Trying to do the right thing doesn't always work out but this was a good reminder to try to be as faithful and as true as you can and leave the rest in safe hands.