Monday, October 26, 2015

How Do You Measure Success?

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….

Can I Go Back Sometime?

I remember my first experience with a nursing home. I remember the smell of urine when I went in. I remember the lady in the wheel chair in the hallway who reached out, and how I was quickly told not to touch her. I remember how scared I was of this place.

That memory is why my heart sings when my children ask when they can go back to Rolling Meadows. 

 Zeke, on the way to school one day, said, “Mom, you know that place you work?”

I responded, “the church?”

“No, the other place.”

That is the only place I work. “Can you describe it for me?”

We continued like this, until it hit me. He was talking about the Nursing Home. Finally I asked if that was what he meant.

“Yeah. Can I go back there sometime?”

Yes, Zeke, you sure can!!!

This last Sunday, I had the great privilege of taking my two kids and Lyndzy down to lead worship. They did a short little skit of our story, about Bartimeaus. While Zeke wandered around sucking his fingers, Lydia and Lyndzy led song after song. When I put them on the spot, they shared different prayers they have memorized. A congregation of about 25 joined them in reciting the Lord’s Prayer, the God is Great prayer, and the Johnny Apple Seed prayer. Then we learned together the ancient Jesus Prayer.

It was everything I love about worship.

Not that we sang my favorite songs, but that everyone was singing the songs together, helping each other with motions and clapping and joy.

Not that the skit was perfectly rehearsed, but that the story of Jesus came alive in the kids pretending.

Not that our prayers were perfect, but that they mystically joined people from different worlds…different generations and different culture norms…as one body.

We didn’t know everyone there, but when we got hugs from Mary Silvers, we felt deeply loved. And when 

Mary apologized for not “coming to church,” we were able to say, “That’s okay Mary. When you can’t come to church, we will come to you.”

So like Zeke, I walked away thinking, “Can I go back sometime?”

When…and Where…was the last time you worshiped like that?