WELCOME TO CHURCH: BRING YOUR FRIENDS!This Sunday marks the beginning of our “regular” church year and I, at least, am very excited. We have many great things planned for this fall for both adults and children. We have some interesting worship planned and, of course, there will be Forums, the Philosophers' Group, social events (like the brunch this very Sunday), and numerous opportunities to volunteer both inside our walls and out in the greater community.
With all of this going on, it would be an easy thing to spend this column reminding you to bring your water on the 16th for the Ingathering Service and to bring your kids starting this weekend for Sunday School. However, I want you to bring something else this fall, starting right now.
I want you to bring your friends.
Yes, I know, this column sounds like others I have written. That is because it is still true! People around here tell me how much they would like to see our congregation grow. We feel that we have something special at Eliot that other folks should know about and experience. We greet each Sunday with the hope that other people—both new visitors and long-time or former members we haven't seen in a while—will walk through our doors at 10am. Guess what, so do I.
The problem, though, is that if we want this to happen, we need to talk ourselves up. It is a fact that churches grow when the members (not the pastors who talk up the church as part of their job) speak up about their faith community. Yes, some folks will drop by and join. Yes, there are still a few “church shoppers” around. Still, to rely on them is to live in a world that ceased to exist around 1963! In real life—today—folks need to be welcomed into a community by members of that community. In the case of the church, they need to be sought out and encouraged sometimes.
So...bring your friends. There is no better time than now. If you are one of those people who believes that all your friends already go to different houses of worship—and considering current trends in religious observance you must have holy friends, indeed—then invite an acquaintance or a stranger, or even family.
This is how communities grow. People make the effort to welcome not just the ones who stumble upon us, but also the ones who don't know anything about us. We have something great at Eliot. We—you—should be letting the world know.