The Old Cowboy over the last week has enjoyed several conversations with other preachers and church leaders about church outreach, and evangelism, and why their congregation is or isn’t growing. Late last night I was thinking about Sunday morning (2/19/12.) As is my normal habit when I am preaching I like to look around the room. There were several visitors present, and one pair of individuals caught my eye several times. A sister had a gentleman with her, and every now and then I observed her helping him find a scripture in the Bible he held. When the members of a congregation invite their friends and family members and take an active interest in the experiences they are having, I can tell a lot about a congregation.
That experience takes me back to the childhood days of my son Shane and his sister Amy. The days when Shane would gather the neighborhood kids in the unfinished room and hold church services. I just know those Catholic and Methodist kids heard several new things, and I know they learned new songs. Every now and then one or more of the neighborhood kids would pile in the car and would go with Amy and Shane to Vacation Bible School and a few times to Bible class and worship services. The kids wanted their friends to go with them. So they asked them and they said yes.
A congregation down the street from me about a mile has a large teen group and a large group of kids in their twenties. On especially a Summer Sunday night it is interesting to watch the two groups. The teens will gather in one set of pews and the twenty year olds in another. What they will do is figure out where they are going to eat or what activity they are going to get involved in. It doesn’t matter if you are a regular member of the group or a visitor, and I am told it doesn’t much matter if you have enough money or not, it will be taken care of. For the ones in their twenties it doesn’t matter if you are married with kids or not or if you have a special friend with you, everyone is invited.
Now the older adults, well they gather in their various little groups of friends or they sneak out of one of the three outside set of doors and go their way. Every now and then you’ll catch the famous phrase, “we’ll see you next week.” Yes you can tell a lot about a congregation when you just look around. By the way this last congregation has grown from about sixty members a little less then ten years ago to a hundred and sixty today. The first congregation I mentioned is just a little over a year old and growing. I’ll give you a report on them in a few months. I think we need to watch our kids more, they seem to have figured out some things we forgot along the way.