When the latest chapter in our history began a few years ago, there was a strong desire to touch and include more people in our area. As Jesus long ago recognized through a mission statement beginning with the word GO (Matthew 28:19), this requires putting yourself out there. It requires inviting and welcoming others into your community, as they also are gracious enough to invite and welcome you into their lives.
In recent years, we have more regularly put ourselves out there and are working to do it even more. When COVID-19 prevented traditional celebrations of Easter and Mother’s Day, we held very well-received services at the local drive-in theatre. When misinformation about the pandemic continued to circulate, we scheduled a community forum featuring a local and long-tenured pathologist with expertise in infectious diseases. When concerns related to COVID-19 continued to leave many wary of in-person worship, we added a drive-in service to our in-person options which grew to include a radio broadcast reaching more and more of our neighbors.
With plenty of room for improvement and innovation left, our efforts to invite and to welcome more have begun to bear fruit. Already one of the area’s largest congregations, 50 percent of our worshipping community has become active in the last four years. On average, close to 80 percent of those who visit return again. The recent creation of an evangelism committee is one measure of our commitment to getting even better at inviting and welcoming.