By our best calculations we had 42 people in our yard tonight. That's not including our family. Or the neighborhood kids who kept showing up (there were at least five or six of them). So well over 50 people total. We're very thankful for a corner lot with a big side yard.
We had wanted to do a gathering this weekend. Our church family was our first thought--but it's always our first thought. We love those people and its easy to spend time with them. So we went with families fromt the boys' school. We just sent out an email invitation to several families who have children our boys are friends with and gave permission for them to extend the invitation tot other families from school. And so 42 people showed up.
We went with the laid back approach of having everyone bring meat to grill and a dish to pass (which is also a good approach when you can't afford feed 42 people on your own). We had condiments, utensils, plates, cups, water, etc. So other than set up, we just had to get the grill going (and thanks to our good friends Bob & Amy Mingo we had a second one to use) and keep things going smoothly.
It was nice to just hang out, let the kids play and get to talk with other parents--many of whom we don't often get much time to talk with. No pressure. No agenda. Just fun and fellowship.
I know some Christians might chastise me for not taking the opportunity to pray for the kids and the school and try to "evangelize those that needed to be evangelized." That would be my pastoral duty, after all. Except that it's not. Not to me at least. I did my job as a follower of Jesus tonight. I gathered people together, served them as best I could, and hopefully let them see a little difference--a little light, a little love, a little fellowship. Most importantly, it was a step toward building some relationships. Not for the sake of "saving" anyone, but for the sake of loving them.
I'm not about high-pressured evangelism. I'm more about trying to live my life in such a way that people see a difference. I believe Jesus said something along the lines of "they'll know we are Christians by our love" (or maybe that's just an old spiritual). If we don't live any differently than others--differently enough that they see a difference in us--then why would they want to follow Jesus anyway?
And so I didn't offer up a prayer tonight. I just kept the charcoal burning nicely while building some new relationships. Hopefully that's something.