The Question (#1)

The Question (#1)

Lisa Allgood, Executive Presbyter

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  – Ephesians 2:19-20

I have a friend who likes to send around cartoons.  This one came last week, and it got me to thinking…

What are the first words of your answer when someone asks you “what is your church about?”

I’m not talking about the Vision or Mission Statements on your church website, printed in your bulletin every week.  I’m asking how you – yes, you – answer that question.

Does your answer start with “warm and welcoming”?  “a family”? “such a great group of people”?

Out of (endless) curiosity, I googled “How to get people to come to church”.  Here’s a synopsis of what I found, in the general order of recommendations, across 12 different results:

1) Create a friendly and welcoming environment

2) Make your Mission Statement clear

3) Switch up your services

4) Ask your congregation for feedback

5) Advertise on social media

6) Utilize texting

Notice that not once was the name of Jesus mentioned in any of the “suggestions”. 

I was left remembering another cartoon this person circulated:

Friends, we are a church – not an exclusive country club, not a think-tank that has all the “right” answers (exclusively, everyone else is just wrong), not a non-profit, not a family.  Sorry – we’re not.  Some churches aren’t warm and welcoming even to each other.  Some churches are so warm and welcoming that the “passing of the Peace” goes on for many minutes – with each other, but not to newcomers.

Right now there are more non-profits registered in the US than churches.  A non-profit can offer a meal or clothing or services without ever uttering the word “salvation” or “soul” or “spirit”. In an individualistic society that doesn’t want to join a community or be challenged by a message, the non-profits win.  And don’t get me wrong – non-profits are terrific; they do good work and I sit on the Boards of several.  

But – how should you describe your church…?

We are an intentional community of believers in the Christ, the Son of the Living Triune God.  Any other descriptor needs to come after that. And if the former is true, the descriptors of the second have to follow Christ’s example.  Wholly.

Because churches communicate a message that has the power to change lives: We are a chosen saved people, asked to continually extend and grow the grace He first showed us. Because without God, anything else we profess to be is just words.

Churches who are foundationally focused on Christ offer something very different – salvation – and offer it persistently. Relentlessly. To everyone; no exceptions. Their only competition comes from other churches who offer that same message.

How would you describe your church…?

More to come…