Often in church life, we have many of the same conversations. “How do we attract young families with children?” “How do we attract youth?” “How do we attract people who will help us do the work and pay the bills?” “How do we attract children for Sunday School?” Sound familiar?
For many of us who have been in church for a while, the question we continue to ask ourselves is, “What do we need to do to attract new people?” So, we have Easter Egg hunts on the church lawn, and Trunk or Treat in the parking lot. We hand out bottled water at community events, and provide backpacks in the schools. We put on Vacation Bible School in the summer. We offer free meals and food pantries. Often, we do these things with the expectation that they will attract new people on Sunday morning.
The goal of all of these efforts is for new people to show up during worship on Sunday. And the measure of the success of these efforts is whether anyone shows up on Sunday mornings because of them. So, when people from our church interact with hundreds of children in the parking lot for Trunk or Treat, but no one shows up on Sunday morning as a result, we deem Trunk or Treat a failure.
What if the goal of all of our efforts, and the measure of success of those efforts, isn’t how many people show up on Sunday morning because of them; but simply how many people we were able to reach? What if the goal of our Easter egg hunt simply is “to interact with 10 families who do not come to church.” What if the goal of VBS is “to have more children come from outside of the church, than inside of the church.” What if the goal of our free meal is “no one eats alone.”
This is a major mind-shift from the way we have done church. Instead of the goal being “attracting people,” the goal becomes “planting seeds,” and we trust God to do the rest.
So, an encouragement to us all. Whenever we are dreaming, planning and visioning, and we hear ourselves say the word “attract,” let’s check ourselves; take a step back and make our goal and measure of success how many seeds we’ve planted (Luke 8:4-15, The Parable of the Sower).
Canal District Office:
Rev. Ed Peterson
800 E Market St.
Akron, OH 44305
Phone: (330) 252-0299
Fax: (330) 252-0297
Monday through Thursday
9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
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