The number one thing we hear from church members who are struggling to Reach New People is this:
“I don’t know anyone who doesn’t go to church.”
As we’ve investigated this reality, we’ve discovered that:
- The people who want to invite and reach out are often the most involved, committed people in their church.
- Their commitment means that they spend a lot of their discretionary time doing church things with church people.
- Even though they are very involved with people in the church, we are all living in a world trending toward social disconnection, distrust, and alienation.
- We are living in neighborhoods in which two-thirds of the population can’t tell you the name of their next door neighbor.
- And let’s face it, we are all spending a lot of time interacting with screens on computers, tablets and phones.
We believe people need Jesus and the good news of God’s grace, love and favor and that the church can be the antidote for the disconnection, distrust, and alienation people are experiencing.
The question is “How do I interact with people so that God is able to use me as a conduit of the grace, love and favor of Jesus and our caring church?”
Lay leaders were asking that question at Mt. Vernon UMC in Toano, VA after attending a Reaching New People Workshop. Their pastor, the Rev. David Craig, was looking to retire shortly. Their church was looking to renew its life and its outreach. With 49 people attending each Sunday and a small community to serve, what to do?
Betty Smith led the team that crafted a thoughtful and engaging outreach to the community that focused on becoming acquainted with people outside the church.
- We’ve been very successful this year.
- We’ve had activities and invited people.
- We’ve had an increase in visitors.
Pastor Craig was surprised by the simple but highly effective method that the team decided to use to connect with new people. They started holding monthly Bunco games to help church members become acquainted with guests from the community.
- We’ve also had this past Sunday two new members to join. That was as a result of the wife coming to our Bunco session that we instituted as a part of this program. The lady came to our bunco session and we all formed a relationship with her.
- She and her husband started coming to church.
- We’ve been so happy to have them join our church this past Sunday.
- Yesterday we had a bunco session, and we had five new ladies come that had not been before.
- They weren’t anticipating the profound difference having ten new people join the church in the past year would have.
- … Today the nominations committee met.
- Compared to last year, this year we had a surplus of people to choose from.
- Last year it seemed we were trying to scrape the bottom of the barrel to fill our committees and we were doubling up on everything else.
- It was really a good change. So we had six to eight new people to choose from.
The outreach continued and Betty reported to me that even more people had joined this year. Current pastor the Rev. Ann On-lin Tang reports that the team has added bridge classes to their Reaching New People repertoire.
What would your church be like if you had a dozen more enthusiastic people engaged in life and ministry with you?
What would it be like if that happened every year?
Even more important, what profound difference might it make in their lives to become involved with Jesus and a loving, caring church like yours?
That’s a mighty big return that starts with a game of Bunco.