Last year, our church did a float in the Christmas parade. God had put this on my heart to do this for a long time, and now it came to pass.
We had a group of people, and I made a Facebook event page for us to keep everyone abreast of the latest parade news and any updates I had. It proved to be a helpful tool for us to communicate what we were all doing with our involvement in the parade.
As soon as the parade was over, I made a new Facebook page, with a similar name, but a different date. Throughout the year, we have come together on the page and shared our ideas and thoughts. This went well for a long time, but, something very strange happened.
I know God has a sense of humor and for a couple of days, I did not see anything humorous in this 'adventure' I found myself in. I never asked for this to happen, and it happened suddenly, without a whole lot of warning.
Last year, we had about 50 people who were involved in the parade. I don't think all 50 came out the day of the parade. Some just helped. But, the number at the most, was 50, well maybe a little over. But, a couple of days ago, the number of people joining us for the parade event on Facebook is a thousand.
What are we going to do? Do these people know we are a group with Metro Life Church of Casselberry? Do they share our vision of communicating the Gospel and making God's name known to all? What was I going to do with all these people? What if they all showed up the morning of the parade, thinking they are part of our group?
I put out some clarification posts, defining what we are doing. The number went from a little under 300 'joiners' last week to 1K in a couple of days. I want people to communicate with me and tell me why they are joining our event.
A couple of people wanted to have their groups in the parade and thought they could join us. Others thought they could just join our group, not understanding why we were going to be in the parade. It was definitely an interesting experience. We started having spammer post their ads. Some of the people felt sorry for me and were trying to help me figure out how we could make this a private event (which we never could figure out how to do).
Then the angry posts started coming. One lady demanded that I stop sending her notifications. I had noticed that several people whom I did not even know, were sharing the event and tagging their friends. I posted a message telling people to not share this event. It didn't do much but make people angry. Some of the people posted and asked me to delete their names. I couldn't. There was no delete feature to use.
I was so tired because I only slept 3 hours the night before. We went to a class at church that evening when suddenly, a light came on for me. I was thinking of what I could say in my next post to the group. I was coming up with the words to say when I was rehearsing the Gospel message in it. I don't know if it was habit for my thinking to be like that, or, if it were the Lord telling me what to write. It fit so perfectly.
I have to admit, I was angry during the day. How much more work was this going to involve? I am sure it showed up in my posts too. But something interesting happened. When I saw the email from the woman demanding me to stop sending her notifications, all I could think of was, 'what a dumb person. She joined the event page. Why is she complaining to me about the notifications?'. But when I responded to her, I felt no anger and I was able to graciously help her to delete herself from the group.
A couple of people said they were going to delete themselves. One person added that she was going to go to the parade but now she did not feel welcome. So, something that started out as a good idea that would serve us as a group, was now making people angry.
But now, the tables are being turned. Some people suggested that I delete the FB event page and start a new one. I probably would have done that if the parade were a couple of months away, or more, but since it is around the corner, I will just keep it for now.
I am going to make all the joiners feel welcome. I will accommodate their desires (as much as possible). I am giving them instructions on where to park and even making them feel like they are part of us. Then, at the right time, I will bring in the Gospel message.
I have been praying for all those who have joined the group. May God open their eyes and help them to see Him. And may they learn of the true meaning of Christmas this year.
Maybe they will receive the best Christmas present ever! Let's pray for them to respond to the Gospel in repentance and faith!
And who knows? Maybe this is the only time they would ever hear the Gospel? Maybe this is God's way of bringing it to them?