by David Phelps
“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” – Mother Teresa
Earlier this year, the laundromat I patronized went out of business. It was a family business, and the entire family was friendly, courteous and helpful. I didn't know just how special they were until they lost their lease. Then I had to find a new place to wash clothes. I looked at a lot of places, but there was always something wrong: This place was too inconvenient; that place had no bathroom; another place had rude help; still another place was near a busy intersection, which would not be good if I had our daughter, Monica, with me.
Right now, some friends of my wife, Charlotte's, and mine are "shopping" for a new church. We pray for them in their search. A few weeks ago, three people joined our church. How I praise God for each one of them! What made them choose our church? What made you choose your church? Was it the location? The United Methodist doctrine? The preaching? The choir? Or was it, perhaps, the people?
Personally, I started going to a United Methodist church as a teenager, because a girl I liked went to a United Methodist church. As time passed, I realized that I felt at home there, and I eventually joined the church and became a United Methodist. After I moved to St. Louis, I started going to Maplewood United Methodist because I only lived a block and a half away, and I could walk to church. But I kept going because I liked it. Today, my wife and I drive past another United Methodist church to get to Maplewood United Methodist.
What can we do to draw people to our church? There are some things about our church we can't change: We can't move the church; the United Methodist doctrine is beyond our individual power to change; the preaching is up to the pastor; most of us can't change the choir because we're not members of it (although I'm sure Kevin, our choir director, would be happy to remedy that for anyone who is interested); But we can change the people because we are the people. We may not be a person's first impression of our church, but we are certainly their last and most lasting impression. If we greet them with a smile, and invite them to come again, they will remember; if no one speaks to them, they will also remember that. There are people out there "shopping" for a church. Your church could be the one they choose. Let's help them have a positive "shopping" experience.
"So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was built up; and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit it was multiplied." (Acts 9:31 RSV.)