The Impact Normal
by Dennis Jaeger
Weekdays at Impact for more than a year have been rather eerie. The hallways were dark. Classroom doors were closed with the lights out. No sounds of laughter or gleeful screams could be heard coming from the auditoriums. All one could hear roaming the halls was the echo of one’s own footsteps bouncing off the walls. There were still occasional activities, and the Resource Center has been serving hundreds more families than normal on a weekly basis, but it certainly hasn’t been the Impact normal. Not like the inspiring return to our summer norm that’s happened over the last week.
Impact’s summer VBS (more like a summer day camp) kicked off on Monday, joining Middle School and High School’s daily camp-like schedule for the first time since 2019. Every classroom in every building is full. The parking lots are jam-packed. More than 20 Impact vehicles, interns and staff, normal daily visitors seeking the church’s help, 30 amazing reading teachers, and commonly 5 or 6 out of town youth groups doing their mission trips with us and staying in the building vie for parking (complicated even more on Tuesday mornings when van and bus routes are going out and hundreds of families are lining their cars up to receive food). 27 air conditioning units are constantly working to stave off the Houston heat. Dumpsters fill up quickly. Our one ice machine tries to produce ice for all those previously mentioned and all our outdoorsmen who are again receiving meals, doing laundry, and taking showers.
This level of daily activity, of course, does not come without complication. One really should arrive at Impact in the morning expecting something to go awry. It’s not uncommon to move your already begun meeting so a group of eager children forced inside by torrential rain can use the room you’re utilizing for a small group Bible study. It’s a rarity for all 27 air conditioner units to all be working at the same time. I have our HVAC company on speed dial. The ice machine is often emptied and can’t catch back up. Vehicles must slowly and carefully maneuver around one another. Vans and buses are constantly shuffled between programs as different mechanical problems are addressed. Luggage, stored in the baptistry and changing rooms, must be lugged to a corner when someone is ready to put on Christ – and then haphazardly moved back. Walls are dented, ceiling tiles mysteriously disappear, something one needs for Sunday gets stashed somewhere and not found until a year later, pipes get clogged and pumps get broken, cars tip into ditches, and knees and elbows are scraped.
Some call this chaos. I call it ministry, and I could not be more overjoyed to once again navigate all these challenges and so many more on a daily basis. It means lives are being changed, faces are full of smiles, laughter is in the air, Jesus is being praised, and a diverse, active community of Christ-followers is working together with grace and mercy to share the love of Jesus with a world so desperately in need of him.
May our church buildings never be empty, and may we always have the need to navigate the struggles that having so many wonderful ministry opportunities happening alongside each other creates. May this always be our “normal”!