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Friday, December 14, 2007 

Get Out Of Church

From the December “Evangelgram” a monthly E-publication highlighting outreach efforts in LCMS Congregations:

So, how can a church reach out to the unchurched families of its neighborhood at Christmas? The list, of course, is long. But in our little Storm Lake church we like to create a big event. Here’s what we did last year.
First of all, we put together our ideas for a big Christmas program/party. We prepare dramas, choirs, special music, games, gifts, and food. We try to have something of interest for all age groups. Considering our goal, we feel free to com­bine the sacred and the secular. We make sure the Gospel message is repeatedly pro­claimed during the event.
Second, we rent a neutral space, a place where the unchurched feel comfort­able in attending. This year, we are renting the big lobby area of our middle school. Here we have lots of space for all of our program activities.


Ok, I’m going to put the best possible construction on the first point and say that combining of “the sacred and the secular” is the inclusion of Santa Clause. Not my thing, but I do understand that some people insist on including make believe characters into church functions for the benefit of our ragamuffins.

But the second point… that needs a little scrutiny. Every time a district or synod official walks into my congregation, we have to listen to how we could just reach more unchurched if we start looking more contemporary in liturgy and hymnody.

So with that train of thought, more and more of our congregations are implementing blended, praise and contemporary styles to attract new potential members. It must be noted that a “little” bump in the road for those who want to throw out the historical liturgy has been the overwhelming success of a real live hymnal, Lutheran Service Book. LSB flies in the face of the popular notions that congregations just want everything printed in a bulletin and therefore have no use for hymnals. But that subject is another post and I need to get back on topic.

With my sitting on mission boards I've heard over and over and over that we need to not scare away the unchurched and that we need to “meet them where they are at”. Now with so many of our beloved synod’s congregations going the way of church growth, one would think that the unchurched might start wandering in. That clearly hasn’t been the case.

So what is now being put forth as evangelism? Why, just move your church function to a “neutral space”! I guess we are now expected to believe that if we take the church out of Church, maybe then our headcount will go up. Yeah, right. It only makes sense that the same folks that are in charge of what is being promoted as missions would recommend that we should move our venues to the high school glee club’s digs that we’ve being trying to emulate for years.

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