This Sunday I led two services. This isn't unusual, but it doesn't happen every week. The first was at Hlalanathi, the church in an informal settlement that we are nurturing along. The congregation was 12 adults and 4 children old enough to listen. That is so encouraging. It is not long ago that I used to arrive to find only one or two people there for church. Or to find that our venue had been appropriated by another church group. This Sunday I heard the singing from the road. It was very cool! And the painted building looks clean and bright inside.
I am very frustrated with my preaching however. I struggle to make contact with the people. It is partly language - they say that they understand English well enough, but I don't think that they do. They also avoid eye contact - I haven't really noticed that before in an African congregation. Is it a cultural thing? I have preached in several other African contexts and have rarely felt such a lack of connection. Last time I was at Hlalanathi I brought 'props'. I was talking about the vine and the branches and pruning and I took along some bits of rose bush - dead and alive. The people showed sparks of life as I explained using the objects. But that doesn't seem like preaching. It seems to belittle the people.
I am preaching there again next Sunday. I must do better. Pray harder perhaps? Because it is God who does the work in the end. But if I'm not the right person, then we must rather find the right person.