The Chair Famine of ’07

Just got home from our leaders meeting. When we started this meeting, I thought it would be my favorite thing on our weekly schedule, but quite the opposite has turned out to be true. It always goes well, but this is the meeting that we have our future plans banked on. With expectations that high, you’re almost sure to be disappointed regularly. Whereas for the big Bible study I have basically no expectations (I’m usually pretty sure no one’s coming), I’m longing to see some growth and maturity on the part of the new Christians who come to our leaders meeting.

It’s amazing how quickly your heart gets tied up with the progress of new believers. When one of them doesn’t seem willing to take another step of commitment, it feels personal and your heart really sinks. I have a lot to learn about discipleship. I’m impatient, despairing, and faithless. There isn’t a student here that doesn’t need years of personal investment. It’s foolish to ignore the big picture, but I’m pretty skilled at doing so.

They’re starting to understand, though, that more people at the Bible study is a good thing. It’s so funny to me. At first, they could care less. They didn’t put it together that God wants everyone to hear the Gospel, therefore, more people at our Bible study is a success. I’d tell the leaders how many people were there the night before and they looked at me like I reported the weather. They were pretty excited that we had 80 last night, though.

So what happens when 80 come to your 60-person event? Chaos, if you’re not careful or lucky. We were closer to lucky. My wife got the phone call that twenty people were coming. This when our sixty chairs had just been filled to capacity. So she grabbed a couple of our leaders, and they dashed off to a supermarket to buy a bunch of cheap stools. So for about 15 minutes, we had twenty people standing in the back of the room. Which was okay, since the lights were off and people were standing up to read the subtitles at the bottom of the screen, anyway. No big distraction. If I was teaching, though, that would have been pretty bad.

Houses here all have house slippers you’re supposed to put on when you come in. We buy a dozen or so of these every week but still run out. So there’s a mountain of shoes at your door. Do you know what seventy pairs of shoes in a hallway look like? It’s really unbelievable. So we ran out of shoes. Temperature goes up. Food disappears. So do our acoustic problems. Comfort level for each person drops significantly. Lot of people get lost in the crowd and don’t get much of a personal contact. And, last but not least, St. received our first official complaint from a fellow building-inhabitant today. Apparently the elevator traffic is annoying. Eighty people all using the same elevator to go to the same floor is a hassle.

It seems like a second meeting would solve these problems. I’m just really hesitant to do so for fear of taking more time away from my language learning. But if I teach the same lesson, it doesn’t seem that labor-intensive to have another meeting. Especially if we can figure out how to do it the same night. I’m eating dinner with a couple of our bringers on Tuesday. Hopefully we can negotiate a beneficial time for around half of our people to meet.

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