In Matthew 22, Jesus tells the parable of a king who planned a wedding feast for his son but whose invited guests did not come. As a result, the king commanded his servants to go into the highways and invite everyone they met to the feast. The servants’ mission could be classified as invitational ministry.
Likewise, the church’s mission today not only involves making a difference in the community but also inviting the community to the church. Inviting people to church is an integral part of community transformation. In other words, as God’s people, we are not only to “go,” but we are also to proclaim, “All come.”
Churches must not only be missional and incarnational, but also attractional. “Attractional ministry” is a church’s attempt to engage the local population primarily through its weekly worship services and local programming. Visitors become the focus of the weekly service, and great effort is put forth in making the service “visitor friendly.” Church programming is designed to address the perceived needs of the community in hopes of attracting them to the church where they can have an encounter with God. All of the services and ministries of the local church thereby become, and should be, evangelistic in nature.
Core Practices – How It’s Done
· Offer seeker-sensitive worship services
· Have a visitor-friendly facility and signage
· Provide greeter and parking lot ministries
· Present creative sermon series that are relevant to visitors
· Use viral media and marketing (blogs, website, social networking sites, etc.)
· Mail or email a newsletter to visitors, not just members
· Advertise through community media
· Offer dynamic children’s and youth programming
· Host holiday and special services designed for the public
· Have programming designed to address identified community needs
Columbia Union Church Profiles
• Grace Outlet
The Pennsylvania Conference estimates that 70% or more of their youth and young adults are no longer attending church. Many of these young adults are located in and around the Reading area. In an effort to reach out and connect with these young adults Kris Eckenroth, conference youth director has planted a church named Grace Outlet. They meet weekly in a building located in downtown Reading. The building is called Goggleworks and was once a factory that manufactured protective eyewear during WWII. The building has now been renovated by the community and is now a cultural center consisting of studios where art, glass blowing, and dance classes are taught. In the midst of all of this activity on the fourth floor you will find the Grace Outlet Seventh-day Adventist church.
Each Sabbath morning the leadership team arrives early to set up their room with chairs, religious artwork, a screen for the lyrics of their praise songs and the power point sermon, and a table containing light refreshments. A praise team leads out in the worship service that is specifically designed for youth and young adults and a children’s program is offered in an adjacent room.
The group has been meeting for about a year and a half and has a weekly attendance that fluctuates between 45 and 70 young adults and its leadership core is composed of young adults that have now returned to church.
This program serves as a effective model for other churches seeking to reach out to youth and young adults.
For more information on Grace Outlet you can contact Kris Eckenroth at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Restoration Praise
A central theme for this Potomac Conference church in Lanham, MD., is inviting people to become part of the body of Christ. Weekly appeals, evangelistic and weekly prayer meetings, and various media outlets, such as Web, Facebook and Twitter, allow members to connect with numerous individuals. They recently concluded an online, interactive week of prayer where the pastors were available to answer questions, leading one New York participant to travel to Maryland to be baptized. They also hold Bible study classes after divine worship services. This church is deliberate and intentional about being inclusive and welcoming. For more information www.rpcsda.org
• New Hope
This Chesapeake Conference church in Fulton, Md., developed a strategy for better communicating with their congregation and community. One element is their website, www.lookingforachurch.org
. It is designed for visitors, people they believe probably aren’t overly interested in religion or church. It also provides a variety of ways to access information, printable sermons, streaming video and downloadable audio files through iTunes. Staff update the site daily. They also connect interests through Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. They also have a YouTube channel which is a great venue for showcasing special events, baptisms, and snippets of their sermons. For more information check out the website or contact the church office at (301) 854-1866.