Either way, you outed yourself. As a churchgoer.
And if you’re like me, that might have taken a little bravery. You’re worried about all the negative associations, the “reverse judgmentalism,” or the awkwardness of making the other person feel a little, well, awkward. Because New England.
Yet the person you were speaking with probably kept the conversation going, because that’s what people usually do: oh… that’s cool. Good for you. So, what kind of church is Grace Chapel?
Now you can answer that question a bunch of different ways: We’re big; 4000 people is pretty big for New England. We have four locations. Our services have really good sermons that make you think, and good music. We offer all kinds of programs, from stuff for kids and teens to ministries of care and support. We’re a non-denominational church that welcomes people from all backgrounds.
Those are all true, and they all describe us. And usually, they get a response like this: wow, that’s really big. That’s nice. I’ll have to check it out sometime.
Most of us recognize the I understand you like it there, but please don't ask me to go with you tone and move on, hoping the Spirit takes the seed of curiosity we've planted and helps it grow. But for others - the brave, determined fishers of men - this is your moment. The Spirit has moved, your net is full, and you just have to pull it into the boat. So you muster up a little more courage and ask, “How about this Sunday?”
But you know what’s coming next, because it’s almost always what comes next. Oh, thanks, but we’ve got soccer. Um, I’ll think about it and let you know. Well, church isn’t really my thing...
That’s not to say God doesn’t use those moments to draw people to Him. There are times when that conversation plays out totally differently. Times when people really do say sure, I’d love to. Can I come this Sunday?
But if it isn’t one of those times… awkward.
So what if we took a different approach? What if, instead of describing our church as something you come to, you described it as something you go from?
What if you told them Grace Chapel was just a big bunch of people – all kinds of people – trying to live out their faith by caring for the world around us?
What if you told them that in a couple of weeks, about 1,000 of us are participating in a community service day called Spring Serve? That we’re meeting the needs of our local community, and it’s actually a lot of fun? And that anyone can come, and they’ll get a little breakfast and a t-shirt if they do?
Here’s the thing about inviting someone to come to Spring Serve: you’re inviting them into our church, without inviting them to church. And by doing that, what you’re really telling them is this:
"Grace Chapel isn't just a place to come to. We're a place to go from.”
More info on Spring Serve, including how to sign up, is online at www.grace.org/springserve.
Jared Willey is Grace Chapel's Director of Communications. He can be reached at .