I had a great conversation yesterday that I thought we all could benefit from hearing.
After our Annual Wiener Roast and Hayride, our current chair of Nurture, our chair for next year, and myself had a little conversation about the failure/success of the event. The current chair was concerned that for the last few years our numbers had been low…only thirty or so people have attended since I arrived. This event used to have quite a few more.
The new chair thought it was worth it. The people who came had a great time.
My take on the event had a little different perspective, because I wasn’t looking at the number in attendance as my deciding factor of success or not.
The value in the hayride for our family was that it allowed me to encourage my kids to be missional. They each got to invite a friend’s family to join us. While those families didn’t come, my kids got to have something to ask them to, and that in itself is valuable. I think we have forgotten as a church that events like these are a chance for us to invite a friend or family member to connect with the church in a way that is less intimidating than worship. Our failure as a church is that we are out of the practice of seeing events as more than a fellowship events for those within worship. We need to do better, myself included, in intentionally inviting those outside of worship to be our guests at hayrides and the like. I am setting a goal and challenging you to do the same…I will invite 5 friends who don’t attend worship to fun church activities I attend.
Where our family didn’t have success in getting those we invited there, another family did. One woman came with 6 unconnected people! Two of those people had a conversation with me about youth group. All of them were able to connect with others in the church in a fun and meaningful way.
If our goal was to re-connect those who used to attend, we succeeded. Not only was this event shared with those who came to our 175th celebration who no longer attend worship, but at least one family invited a family member who doesn’t come to worship anymore. I know, because he was there!
If our goal was to build stronger relationships, then the event was a success when one of our retired women offered and brought an 11-year-old she saw at worship.
For me, the event was a success. But it wasn’t a success because we had more people than last time. It was a success because
1. It allowed regulars to engage in invitational evangelism.
2. 7 unconnected people connected with the church.
3. Generational divides were broken down.
So, I guess it’s all in how you measure success….