Remember the buzz of Sunday mornings? It was a day to take a break from my “Knight Rider” T-shirt and find something with a collar. Smells of pot roast were sure to great us after putting in our two hours of Sunday sacred. The singing, the preaching…all seemed so marvelous and special.
I see “church folks” run in texting with one hand and carrying a binder full of
Council minutes with the other. Forty-five minutes later, there is just enough time to scarf down a post-church cookie and hurry off to a soccer match. It would seem the Sunday magic has fled.
As churches see their attendance dwindle, we can wax nostalgic for the “good ol’ days” when pews were packed and “church” was an all day phenomenon that stood in stark contrast to the rest of the week. As western society races ever toward secularization we, in church leadership, are tasked with re-imagining the way church integrates with busy family and social lives.
For decades we have been accustomed to a modified version of the Sabbath. We may not have totally “rested” on Sunday, but we made an attempt to meet, eat, sleep and watch The Wonderful World of Disney.. Days of rest are few and far between in the modern era. . One is considered to be extremely balanced if five minutes of quiet meditation finds itself into our weekly routine.
There is immense value in knowing how to pull back from the chaos of life and practice intentional moments of gratitude and reflection. There is a wealth of inspiration to be gained from the gathering of people together to sing, pray, listen and share.
but this is only one piece of the puzzle..
We must have a moment of clarity.
Church is about more than Sunday!
I call it the “Being Church Mindset.” The days of “having church” may be numbered, but that doesn’t mean that “being church” must share this fate.
We must find ways to connect with our congregations organically.
We must actually and intentionally care for them; their lives, their jobs, their families. Yes, “worship” holds an important place in the life of the church, but it is only ONE piece. The things we do on the other six days have the potential to take a congregation from dwindling on life support to thriving!
Here are some ways to “be church” throughout the week:
- Get your Latté on! It’s time to go on a caffeine bender. Go through your church directory and one-by-one invite each person/couple to a coffee break, lunch or even a cup of tap water on a park bench! The food or beverage is not the
issue, it’s the connection. In the ministry we tend to think that our communication must be accompanied by candle lighting and a choir anthem, but that is actually extremely far from the story the Gospels tell. The real beauty of spiritual connection came at the side of the community well or through the basket of fish and bread. Check in with your spiritual family, ask about the things that matter to them.
- Publish a blog, post to Facebook, etc. Don’t skip this step….it is NOT optional. If you are thinking “I’m not on Facebook.,” my response would be, “Well, ‘they’ are!” Very quickly we learn the lesson in ministry that it’s not about us. I understand the fear of technology and what it is doing to society, but that is no excuse to ignore it! We have a responsibility to go wherever the people are. If the people are on the mountain side, we must go to the mountain side. If the people are on Instagram….then we must go there. I’m not saying you have to master social media, but I am strongly urging you to pick at least one platform and start sharing. Your church family will look forward to seeing pictures of the new tulips that are growing by the entryway or hearing insights to the week’s scripture reading. Even if people can’t make it to the worship service that week, they will still be “in the loop.”
- Monitor community events and inform your congregation. Take a look at sites like Eventbrite and Eventful and ask if anyone is interested in attending. We get so used to promoting our own events and fundraisers, we forget to engage with our local community. Perhaps there is a jazz concert in the park, this gives you opportunity to connect with those in your church who have a love for jazz or parks, or both!
- Organize a “Little Lights” pool. Does anyone in your church community have a need for a simple task to be done? Are there people in your church that would be willing to help? For example, there may be a congregant who needs a ride to the grocery store. Can we find someone who can volunteer to pick them up once or twice a month for a joint shopping trip? Does an elderly member have a picture to be hung? Surely someone at the church has a hammer and a half-hour to help out. Creating a simple needs list with pen and paper, spreadsheet or through a platform like Scribbles is a great way to get your members to interact with each other.
Let’s face it, attention spans are getting shorter and weekly worship attendance is decreasing for many churches. This doesn’t have to be the end of all things congregational! We ARE church. We can “make church” wherever we are. The modern social reality doesn’t lend itself to separating church life from everything else. Churches will soon find that in order to stay relevant, we must fully integrate with the lives of our members. And not only be present in their lives, but provide value. This list is in no way comprehensive, but I hope it stimulates discussion about how you can take these concepts and develop a “Monday through Saturday” strategy that will keep your connecting with and uplifting each other!