Sunday, July 31, 2011

What Have We Learned?

After all the time, money and effort to put on a really good Vacation Bible School - and with really promising attendance to boot - our attendance in church and Sunday School has not been improved in the least. So what did we learn from all our hard work and experience? Here are a few lessons:

1. Our church must have a consistent means of outreach. Otherwise, we are quickly forgotten because a single effort for a brief time is too little to establish regular attendance habits.

2. We must relentlessly go after people. Anything less fails to generate prospects. We must relentlessly witness. Anything less fails to generate disciples.

3. Whether we have an afternoon or evening service doesn't really matter. Whether we have a high quality Sunday morning worship service really matters a lot.

4. Youth ministry will help youth, but it will never by itself grow the church. Witnessing and relationships are the tools that grow the church.

5. After all is said and done, we still have to figure out the most effective and consistent means to reach the public on a daily basis.

So we are not back to square one. In truth, we've never left.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Dream Fulfilled - They Came!

"if you build it, they will come" - so goes the line from the movie "Field of Dreams." It's a great line for a movie, but it doesn't work in real life. The world is full of projects built and ignored by the general public. So what were we thinking when our church (with a grand total of four kids in Sunday School) began planning the great-granddaddy blowout of all Vacation Bible Schools?

Suppose we build it and no one comes?

Given that our church had never even tried Vacation Bible School in our history - With four kids what did you expect? - we had no idea what kind of response we would gain.

Enter the highly energized youth group from Alaska Baptist Church. This would be the Alaska Baptist Church that's not in Alaska - not that Alaska. They came down from Caledonia, Michigan (yes, that Michigan, land of "the school from up north" for all Buckeye fans.) to undertake a missions project and we were it. In four days time, they blitzed our town, a city of about 1200 homes and 6000 residents. The result? We had more kids attending Vacation Bible School than we've ever had, up to 18 on two days. They came!

But they didn't come back on Sunday.

Whoa! What do you make of that? Simply that unsaved people well practiced in not attending church are not going to suddenly see the light and change their behavior simply because the children attended four days of Bible school. We are going to have to go after them again. And again. And again. And again.

But if we go, they will come. So we have to keep going until they are finally established securely in our church. "If you build it, they will come" - if you go after them.