In the last post, I opened up a can of community apathy about your church. The average unchurched person doesn’t care how much time you put into the naming of your newest ministry project, or how much money you spent on the slick flyer that was mailed to their house and then promptly thrown away with the rest of the unsolicited junk mail. It’s not that they have a personal vendetta against you, it’s just that you’re not on their radar. If they’re not looking for a church (and many aren’t), you’re one more white noise advertisement in a world of solicitors.
The post sparked a bit of interest, and maybe a little more than a passing desire to find a corner where you can lay in the fetal position and mourn your job security. After all, churches are in the people-reaching business. If we can’t reach people, then we might need to resort to business meetings where we argue about meaningless things.
[pause for dramatic irony]
But here’s what I’ve noticed: the catalyst for someone caring about your church is often misunderstood. I grew up in a day of cold calls and canned presentations. When my youth group went on a mission trip to serve another church, our M.O. was often to knock on doors and invite people to come.
And they rarely did.
Oh sure, there was the occasional conversation. The infrequent positive response. But overall, there was no response. Not positive. Not negative. Just…absent.
Here’s what I’ve discovered: most people who will attend your church will do so not because of a flyer, a marquee, or a newspaper ad. They’ll do it because of relationship. They’ll do it because a member of your church lent a hand, gave some money, bought some groceries, spoke a kind word, or personally shared the gospel.
And because they trust your people, they might try your church.
The people in your church are the best commercial for your church. I’m incredibly grateful for our folks at the Summit who live what they believe in the community. They serve without expectation of return. They give generously when they know of a need. They seek to bless others without an agenda.
And often times, that is the catalyst.
People crave authenticity. They need to know that someone out there is real. They need to see that we walk what we talk, we practice what we preach, and we live what we believe. We can either tell someone we’re Christ-followers, or we can act like it. I don’t mean a Francis of Assisi approach of sharing-the-gospel-without-words; I’m talking about living every day loving those whom Christ loved. Giving as Jesus gave to the church. Doing as Jesus did for the church.
And when the church cares about people, people will care about the church.