WESTERN RESERVE DISTRICT
One of our recent vacation stops was The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. Years ago, on a trip home from the south, we visited its Welcome Center. At that time, we assessed that it was not the way to spend our money or time with two small boys. It was a wise decision.
As opportunity presented itself this summer, Tom and I enjoyed a return visit. We spent our day marveling at the home’s innovations, hearing the stories of its past, touring the gardens, staring at the spectacular mountain views, lunching at the Bistro.
We got our steps in that day … and enjoyed every moment of it.
I wonder how many people are content with Welcome Center experiences. The Biltmore’s Welcome Center is nice. You can see pictures, talk to guides, even purchase the “Audio Tour” and hear stories. It takes investment of money and time to get past the check point. Even then, one must travel over two miles to reach a Shuttle … that then takes you further along the winding road before the home becomes visible.
In a church, laity can be fascinated by the programs and events of a place; experts at sharing stories from the past; comfortable with how things are; fixated on proper signage, music, worship time, refreshments ….. It takes commitment and discernment to turn all these elements and more into a meaningful experience for those who dare to visit. Yet even then, it will take more steps for someone to invest in a relationship with a church … let alone, Jesus.
I was wondering the other day, as I prepare for the fall season, how churches would respond to a simple question, “Why should I visit your church?” In many ways, it is at the root of celebrating the ministries of each congregation. It is an Outcome-based approach – what difference are you striving to make in this period of your life and ministry? Why are you doing what you’re doing? It is opportunity to explore what goals to set, and what relationships need to deepen.
Yet, when all is said and done the simple answer is … hopefully …. prayerfully ….
….. So we can help you discover and experience Jesus.
Visiting a historic NC home did not change my life. It was an enjoyable experience and I’m grateful I went. Quite frankly, visiting any of the 58 churches in the Western Reserve District may not change my life. Then again, in places committed to and passionate about helping me know Jesus …. my life will never be the same!
The world is full of people wandering the winding road of life.
How will you come alongside them and help them know Jesus? This is the work of Christ’s Church.
This is what, “Welcome! We’re glad you’re here!” is all about.
I thank you for your faithfulness in the work of God’s Kingdom.
Western Reserve District Office:
Rev. Sondra Snode
71 North Park Place
Office Hours: Monday through Thursday 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
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