Rev. Sarah Martens looked around the room at the worship planning team. Beth Cooper was the choir director. The lay leader, Sam Morgan, coordinated the laity who served in worship. Terry Watkins is the president of the UMW and was adept at getting things done.
“I’m so grateful that you gave the time to participate in the workshop last weekend. If you’re like me, there were some interesting new ideas presented. They make sense to me. I also think they are practical and Biblically sound. So, I’d like to add to our worship planning that approach that Rev. James called ‘Wanted – Needed – Missed.’ What do you think?” asked Rev. Martens.
“I’m game,” Terry said, “I would be so happy for some of our less active members to find the church more loving and to become more deeply engaged.”
Beth said, “I’m not sure. I really don’t know how this would work for us. I’m already very busy and adding something new is not something I’m looking forward to.”
“Let’s give it a try.” said Sam, “We’re all very busy with full lives. If it becomes too much, we can reconsider. But it sounded so promising to me. I would hate to miss the chance to strengthen our church.”
“OK, I appreciate your concern Beth. We won’t insist that you take on anything you don’t believe you can do. But let’s work the process and see what happens.” Rev. Martens replied.
“Here is what I propose. I’ve broken our church membership into six segments, which I think is correct. That way we’ll consider each person at least once every six weeks to see what “Wanted – Needed – Missed” might mean for them.”
Terry spoke up, “Sarah, I recall that we were encouraged to try the process with just one person to begin with and build up from there.”
“Right,” Sarah replied, “But I’d still like to review the church roll routinely to see how long it takes and so we get an impression of how people are participating. Would that be ok with everyone?”
Sarah handed out copies of the church roll. There were six sections each separated by an index page so everyone was looking at the same section.
“We’ll start this week with section one. Let’s look through the list – considering who we might be missing. I also think it is important to consider who might need to know they are wanted and who might be ready for an invitation to deeper engagement.” Sarah said.
“Could we begin this in prayer?” asked Sam.
“Absolutely,” Sarah said. “Would you pray for us?”
“Thanks, I will. Let’s pray.”
“Lord, we ask you to come and be with us as we think about your church members. We know you gave yourself that we might have life and have it abundantly. We want to be a church that fully participates in that abundant life and leaves no one behind. As we look at the names of your servants here in our church, please help us see them with your eyes. Help us to discern who among them need something from the church so that your love is made known to them. Through Christ, our Lord, we pray. Amen.”
“Has anyone seen Mark Boseman recently?” asked Sam.
“Yes, he was in Sunday School two weeks ago. He had to leave before worship to go for his mother’s birthday in Lexington.” Terry replied.
“What about Katia Simmons? I don’t recall seeing her for a good while.” Sarah said.
No one had seen Katia.
“OK, so Katia might be a good place to start. Let’s put her as the first person on our “Be on the Lookout” list.” Sarah said.
It took 20 minutes to review the segment of the church roll. They had 15 people who were placed on the “Be on the Lookout” (BOLO) list.
“This is really interesting,” Beth said. “I was skeptical about this, but as I looked through the roll, I found myself strangely convicted about these people. These are people I’ve known a long time but I hadn’t really noticed that they were missing. I totally see why doing this is important for a church. I’m kind of embarrassed that these many friends could be drifting away from our church and I didn’t even notice.”
Terry said, “Now we know something very important that had slipped past us. So, what are we going to do about it?”
“Now I’m beginning to feel overwhelmed,” said Pastor Sarah “When we go through the rest of the membership roll we’re going to have 90 people on our “Be on the Lookout” (BOLO) list. I can’t possibly see us responding to all of them.”
“I totally get that,” Sam replied “Steve said to start with one person and build our capacity over time. Does responding to one person sound manageable to you?”
“Of course, I can do that. But what about all the others?” Sarah asked.
“When we respond to one person this week, that is better than we’ve done for the last 20 years when we didn’t even notice people until they were long gone.” Terry said. “I suggest we start with Katia, since she’s first on our list. Next week, if we believe we can, we’ll try two people.”
Pastor Sarah saw heads nodding and positive expressions all around.
“OK, I’m in.”
Next Time – Learning Katia’s Story.