In the United Church of Christ this Sunday is “Bring a Friend to Church” Sunday. In some ways, that sounds hokey. Bring a friend to church - some say that if their friends wanted to be in church, they would be. Sometimes, they say their friends are in other churches. Both of these are certainly true statements. However, there is another true statement: Asking a friend to come to church seems like “evangelism” and we don’t do evangelism in our (liberal) circles.
When I think of evangelism as such, inviting a friend to church may sound uncomfortable. It may sound preachy, too. When I think of the mega churches, however, I see that these pastors and members are not hesitant to invite friends to church. They do it frequently and nicely. Friends are invited to worship, but they are just as likely to be invited to a dinner, a game night, a movie or a kids' play. The hope is that when the friend comes, what is offered will be received positively. Since they are raising friends, the design of the event is to engender positive feelings.
As I look at our rural but progressive congregation, I see the potential for a mega- church, right here in north central Pennsylvania. That vision requires defining “mega” not in the thousands - our county is only about 15,000 - but in the hundreds. Yesterday I wrote my monthly report for the New Church Start committee of our conference. In it, I said I am happy that when we have thirty-five in attendance on a Sunday we are approaching the norm for the county. Lord, I should have said “I dream in hundreds” so thirty-five is this month’s starting point.
I am happy to report that we have grown to thirty-five. I will be happier to report that we have grown to forty-five, then even one hundred. “Mega” is all a matter of perspective. We can do it. Our enthusiasm is contagious and our message gives hope to all.
If you live in Tioga County, Pennsylvania, I invite you to attend this week’s service at 10AM on Sunday (in Mansfield, by WalMart) to see what it offers you. If you live out of the area, but know of folk who live here, I invite you to pass this blog on to them. If you don’t live here and don’t know anyone who does, I invite you to join many others who are praying for this fledgling church. A growing church with a big heart with arms that embrace all who come through the door.
May the peace of God be with you this week.