Sunday, August 16, 2009

Holy Church Service, Batman!

A year ago at this time, I was planning Sunday School lessons for two fourth-graders.  This year, I am shaping a curriculum for two classes of students who range in age from 3-12.  Up until this morning, I was expecting that between the classes, we might have 8-10 students on a fairly consistent basis.

After today, it is entirely possible that we will have 15 in the classes.  Fifteen.  Regularly.  We had nine visitors in church today - including five fantastic kids!  Since our worship attendance is normally about 25-35, the addition of nine people is significant and marvelous.  There were 46 of us today.  And I do think our visitors will be back.  (I sure hope so!)  

It's also fabulous in that there was a diverse group of folk who joined us for the first time - a mom with a toddler daughter, a mom with four kids, an older couple, and a gentleman who is planning to run for U.S. Congress in our district.  Plus a larger-than usual group of "regulars," who are themselves a heady mix of families, widowers, widows, older couples, and same-sex couples of a variety of ages.

Conventional wisdom seems to be that church growth happens when that new and exciting minister comes to town, and I expect there are places where that happens.  But in smaller communities, or at least in this one, even dynamic ministers really have to build trust in order to impact a community - and that comes with time.  I think it also helps that over the past few years, I have built real friendships with a number of the people who've ended up coming to church in the past year.  They have seen that I am their friend and that my relationship with them has nothing to do with church.  They know that I will be their friend if they never come to church; and they know that if this church community is not for them, we will still be friends.  

Of course, I will happily navigate the challenges of friends joining the church I serve, and if this is a good fit, nothing would make me happier than friends finding a home in the church I love so well.  In fact, I rather like the way we've rather unconventionally grown and the ways that this growth is emerging and taking shape in the life of our church community.  

This is a big of rambly post, I know - but I'm still riding the "high" from worship and fellowship time today - and I can't wait to start my work week!  Thank you, visitors, friends and members!


Laura said...

We knew this day would St. Helen said, we waited 50 years for you.

LiturgyGeek said...

Pish-posh. I mean, thank you. The genuine hospitality of all our members makes a real difference, I think. But as always, I will try to gratefully accept the kindness of my Pope.

Lucky Fresh said...

That is great, LG! Those are important days. It's been up and down here in Dixie, but your insight about building trust is a good one. We're not up to 15 kids yet, at least not most Sundays, but we're getting there! 3 new babies coming this fall/winter!