Tyler leaned against the wall beside the pastor’s door, still as a statue. His hands were deep in his pockets and his head was down, his eyes closed. When he heard the knob turn, he straightened up and walked away toward the foyer. He could hear the pastor walking behind him, but he didn’t turn. The ushers were starting to close the doors when he entered the sanctuary and found his usual seat with the other teens in the front row. Jeff raised an eyebrow at him, as the lights dimmed and they stood for the first song.
“What were you doing?”
The drum cadence made it impossible to talk, so Tyler shrugged. Later, when Pastor invited the congregation to greet each other, Jeff turned to Tyler.
“Seriously, dude. What were you doing?”
“Praying.” Tyler shrugged again and turned to Mrs. Mable who was waiting to give him a hug. He liked her, but she did complain a lot.
After the service, Tyler followed Jeff and some of the others out through the foyer toward the front doors of the church. His mother broke away from a group gathered around the posters of the new building and grabbed his arm.
“Could you pick up your sister from Sunday School and take her home? I think I’ll be here a while.” She looked back over at the group, whose voices were starting to rise.
“Sure.” He grimaced at Jeff, who had waited for him by the door. “See ya, man.” Then he turned toward the Sunday School wing, trying not to hear the same arguments that had been going on since the architect designs had been put up.
“Why can’t they add another bathroom? Pastor just doesn’t understand how important that is.”
“Come on. There are five stalls. That’s plenty, even when we get bigger. But I heard they’re going to put in purple carpet and chairs. Purple! Do they really think men like my father would come to a purple church?”
Later that afternoon, Tyler picked up Jeff in his Jeep and headed for McDonalds where some of the gang met before youth group.
“What were you praying about outside the pastor’s office this morning?” Jeff asked. “I thought you were in trouble.”
Tyler grinned. “I haven’t been sent to the principal’s office since I was ten. No, seriously, I just think Pastor needs some support. Everyone’s complaining all the time.”
“I wish we weren’t building a new church. It’s all my parents can talk about. It’s a bad design. Not enough Sunday School rooms. Not enough parking. We shouldn’t have a mortgage. Who gets to pick the colors? Blah, blah, blah.” Kendra punched the air with a french fry with each point.
Brittany leaned over from the next table. “I heard that the Taylors are going to another church.”
“Yeah. Madison said her mom doesn’t feel welcome anymore. It’s all just stupid. Who cares about colors and stuff?”
Tyler reached for one of Kendra’s fries. “That’s why I’m praying,”
Next Sunday, Tyler saw Jeff leaning against the wall by the pastor’s office when he turned into the hallway from the foyer. Jeff nodded, but didn’t say anything and Tyler stood on the other side of the door and bowed his head. He heard some rustling while he prayed, but he didn’t look up until the door opened. Some of the girls were standing along the wall opposite him and Pastor was standing in the doorway staring at them. To Tyler’s disgust, the girls giggled.
“Hi, Pastor. Bye Pastor.” They hurried down the hall, leaving Tyler and Jeff to explain.
But Pastor just smiled at them. “Morning boys.” He followed the girls without another look. Tyler walked after him with Jeff.
“If they’re going to do this, they have to be serious,” he whispered.
He wondered if Jeff had talked to them, because next Sunday there were more kids, and they all stood silently with their heads bowed, lining both walls of the hallway. They had left a spot for Tyler next to the pastor’s door. No one moved when pastor came out and he didn’t say anything. When he headed for the sanctuary, they followed him in silence.
That night he came to youth group. When they had settled into their seats for the large group meeting, Pastor Tom frowned at them from the stage.
“I don’t know what you’ve all been up to, but Pastor has asked to speak to you tonight. I better not hear that you’ve been flocking his house again.” He laughed and handed the microphone to Pastor.
“No worries, Tom. We’ve got a godly group of young people in this church. They wouldn’t dream of damaging my property unless it were for a good cause.” They laughed with him because they had raised a lot of money for the building fund when they put thirty two flamingoes on his lawn last summer. He stopped laughing and stood looking at them for a long time. Tyler squirmed a little. If the pastor thought they were doing something bad, it was his fault.
“I’ve noticed some of you have been standing outside my office before service. I asked Tom and your parents about it and no one seems to know what you’re doing there. So I asked the Lord about it and He laughed at me.” One of the girls gasped, and another one giggled. “’Isn’t it obvious?’ He said to me. ‘They’re praying for you.’”
He lowered the microphone, walked over to the wall and leaned against it. He bowed his head and looked at his feet, unmoving for a few seconds. Then he lifted the microphone and walked back to the front of the stage.
“I came to thank you. Sometimes we adults get so caught up with what we want, we forget what’s really important. Sometimes we forget we are God’s people and this is His house. Next week we’re going to have another meeting about the building. But before we talk about it, we’re going to talk about what God wants. I know we all love Him, but I think we may have forgotten we want to please Him. So thank you for remembering. Thank you for praying for me. And don’t stop.”
He handed the microphone to Pastor Tom and stepped down from the platform, walking down the aisle toward the foyer doors. Even the girls didn’t make a sound. Suddenly, Tyler jumped up and started clapping. Jeff and the other kids around him did too and pretty soon the clapping filled the room. Pastor Tom signaled the worship band to start playing. Pastor kept walking, but Tyler saw him pause at the door when Tom spoke into the microphone.
Read about Mara's encounter with Pastor Brent here.