Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Inviting People to Church

Image from tipsforphotographers.com

Last night, in the process of inviting
friends and acquaintances to a new
singing/chanting meditation group at my church, 
I got a little surprise.  

It is much easier for me to invite 
those folks to a meditation group - at church - 
than to a Sunday morning worship service. 

Sunday morning altar, graced with the bounty from our church garden.
 Photo by January Nordman. 

Each week, I create a Facebook invite for Sunday worship. 
I click on the "invite friends" button. 
And as I look at my list of friends, 
my hand hovers over each box next to their names. 

"Should I invite them?"
"Will they think I'm being too forward?"
"Do they have a bad association with church, 
will this turn them off, and will they want to unfriend me?"

These are some of the questions 
running through my mind as I decide whether
their box gets a check mark (invite!)
or remains blank. 

As I was doing the Facebook inviting
for the singing/meditation group, 
none of those questions were in my mind. 
Instead, there was a spirit of giving and offering
something worthwhile, of sustenance, 
that people will want and need. 
I imagined the greeting being 
received with curiosity, thankfulness, excitement. 

Do I not feel that way about Sunday morning worship? 

Hmmm ... 

The thing is, I'm really proud 
of the worshiping community at my church. 
We have a talented music director, 
a group of attentive, thoughtful people in the pews,
a spirit-filled liturgy,
 and an all around joyful attitude on Sunday morning. 
Worship is followed by a vegetarian potluck, 
and people can tour our organic, sustainable garden. 
(And take home produce for later!)

Somehow, the singing meditation group 
(First Sundays at 7 pm)
feels like a less threatening "ask" than
Worship at 11 am on Sunday morning. 

And I noted - if I, the minister, struggle with 
inviting people to worship, 
then imagine how many laypeople must feel. 

For my church, friends inviting friends to church
will be key to our revitalization efforts. 
I'm thinking about how to make the 
invitational process do-able for 
current members and friends. 

And reminding myself that 
Sunday worship - 
with our stories and songs, 
prayers and meditation, 
preaching and words of wisdom - 
is a gift we offer the community. 
A time to rest weary souls and bones. 
A time to get reconnected to 
the self, the community, the holy. 
A time for joy and tears, 
for laughter and silence. 

Who all will I invite to church this Sunday? 
Who will you?  

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