One item on my desk is a small jar with the words “Easy Answers – Help Yourself” on it in big, friendly letters. This jar is always empty.
It’s normal to come to leaders and experts assuming they have answers for our questions. And sometimes we do. But they are never easy and very rarely are they straightforward.
One question I have received often is what are we going to do about our low church attendance? How do we get more people coming to worship? How do we get more people involved? Sometimes they expect me to have a simple fix-it like “change the worship music” or “put banners on the church exterior” or “update the church website” and, while none of these are necessarily bad things, none of those address the core issue.
1) How did you first get involved at Greensburg First Presbyterian?
2) What has kept you here?
3) What is it about our congregation that is unique, in your experience?
4) What excites you about our church?
5) If Greensburg First Presbyterian disappeared tomorrow, where would the absence be felt most keenly in your life?
Be as honest as you can. Now, with that perspective (recognizing that your personal experience is not everyone’s experience) try to generalize your personal experience. What makes our congregation stand out to you? What are we offering that no other congregation in the area is offering? What would attract people to our congregation?
My son, Simon, is a theater major and recently played the part of the Big Bad Wolf in Shrek: The Musical. One of the songs, “Freak Flag,” speaks to the misfit nature of their fairytale confederacy and affirms “What makes us special makes us strong.”
When we pray for the church in our Prayers of the People (Form B), which we use at Midday Prayer, the response goes, “Faithful God, you formed your church from the despised of the earth…” Not the popular people. Not the successful people. Not the top athletes. Nope. God formed the church from the people nobody else seemed to want… the outsiders, the freaks, the unloved.
As “The Church on the Square” we have a kind of pride of place. Can we also be “The Church on the Corner” where the proud and the humble intersect? Where the prosperous and the down and out intersect? Where the insiders and the outsiders intersect?
There are no easy answers. I’m fresh out. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t answers. They just aren’t easy.