Down through the years, maybe partially because I was educated and trained in marketing, partially because I'm a classic "fix it" male, but really, because I want to see people experience the joy of life in Jesus Christ, I've tried to discover what we can do to get people to come to New Hope.
We've done a lot of things down through the years. Over and over again the most effective means, as reflected by the answers to "how did you find New Hope?" have been:
1. A personal invitation - far and away the most effective
2. Our sign - amazing to me
3. Our website - more and more this is the first contact
None of the other efforts have really proven to be effective for us. I have to say that it has annoyed me - the marketer me - because it is so ingrained in me that if you just get the right message in front of the right people - they will come. But they haven't.
I was reading Darryl Dash's blog this morning (was pointed there by Milton Stanley), and he reported the findings of another church's survey.
MacDonald now pastors a church in downtown Toronto called Grace Toronto. The church recently asked community members to describe their objections against Christianity. They found that many didn't have objections; they just find Christianity irrelevant. Going to church doesn't even make the list of options for Sunday morning. The seeker approach assumes that people will attend church if its relevant. But many won't go to church no matter what we do.
Friends, we overestimate our impact and underestimate the power of our opposition.
No matter what we do, we can't fix the lack of interest a population of people in rebellion to God has in attending a church worship service. Nor can we awaken their hearts to God's love. That's way above our pay grade as my father used to say.
What we can do is be authentic followers of Jesus and be available to our neighbors during times when they are spiritually receptive to the message.
What we can do is push out past the doors of the church and move into the neighborhood to experience life with our neighbors.
What we can do is pray, pray, pray for the people around us to experience the grace of Jesus.
But we can't fix it.