Thursday, March 24, 2011

When less is more

As I have been getting around church ministers, I have been hearing many people voice this similar statement ‘Sunday church service is just too hard to get unsaved people to attend.’ I am beginning to think that it is not so much what the Sunday church product looks like but the fact that people don’t go to activities they know little about.

An increasingly greater percentage of 96five’s audience rarely if ever attend church yet they are increasing their engagement with the radio station. Obviously they are not negatively affected by the Christian message in the programming. Attending church though on a Sunday isn’t an option for them. I actually think it is unfamiliarity with church which could be the problem.

Let me use the Bronco’s as an example. Very few people would go to a Bronco’s NRL match not knowing anything about rugby league. Virtually the whole crowd has at least some passing knowledge of the rules and format of the game and the Bronco’s. If there are any who go with no knowledge at least they go with someone who does and invited them to go.

Why are we surprised that strangers don’t suddenly start turning up at our services. What we do know is that strangers will come if they are invited by a friend. And most church ministers do encourage their congregation members to invite a friend to church.

What I have been seeing are ministers who are starting to think out of the box. What if I kept my congregation members less busy and gave them more opportunities to form relationships in the community. What would it take to resource Mary Smith to help her be Jesus in the school tuckshops? How could I help Rob at his kids sporting club be Jesus to the parents on the sideline. Historically church has been about keeping its members busy so they don’t get caught up in the world. Suddenly we have lost our influence in the world. What if your church businessmen were members of their chamber of commerce? Congregation members joined political parties on both sides of politics. Then we start being an influence, making friends and creating opportunities to invite people to a relationship with Christ and church.

I think as more Christians are released to be Christians in the marketplace not just in the pews we will begin to see our influence spread further and perhaps over time our attendances rise. Maybe the principal of less is more might work. Less work in church programs and more work out in the community might just work.