Heard that another Chattanooga pastor offered some advice this past Sunday. Basically, instead of giving up something that we will pick back up after Lent, why not give up something we don’t need, such as worry? The biblical recommendations to trust in the Lord offer us the potential for a positive experience that will improve our lives if we will give whatever is worrying us to God. Deciding to stop worrying could also improve our witness!
This recommendation begs this question. What has the greater impact on others, what we say or how we live? Most will agree that how we live will have the greater impact on others. The problem is that we would much rather tell someone the Good News than take the time for them to get to know us well enough to see the Good News lived out in our lives. Maybe we should give up being in a hurry, too.
When our year end statistics for the Chattanooga District were tallied this year, our District Superintendent shared that our cumulative average attendance for the year was down by 500 people! Wow! What happened! Has the message of God’s love, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, and assurance suddenly gone out of fashion? This did not happen because we ran out of people—I see new faces everywhere. Maybe they are waiting for someone to build enough of a relationship with them to dare inviting them to join us for worship. Hmmm.
A speaker at Ministers’ Convocation last week offered the following guidance. Bishop Looney (a native son of the Holston Conference) said that there are three simple steps to take to grow our congregations. I took notes so I could accurately share them. They are, 1) Invite, 2) Invite, and 3) Invite. Yes, that is really all there is to it. Invite people to share in an outreach activity. Invite people to join you for covered dish dinner. Invite them to any outing that the church is planning. And, invite them to join you for worship. Don’t worry about whether they might have a church family for it may be that they have been taking a break, or just relocated and need a new church family. It takes very little to show them that you honestly care for them.
Remember the three simple steps to help grow our congregations? Repeat as often as you see someone from outside your family. And, pray that God will send the people our way who most need to hear and see our invitation. We will have a training event later this month (see elsewhere in this newsletter or look for a flyer) on being invitational and I hope that you will join me as we take advantage of this opportunity to learn more.
Have a blessed day,