Our study group continues in chapter 8 in the book "We Are Witnesses of These Things." --Prepare the Way of Jesus.
We talked briefly about one question--How does our faith community's life together align with its confession and witness of Jesus? We talked about ways in which we serve in and with the community.
How does our community receive and accompany people desiring to follow the way of Jesus? One way doesn't fit all! We offer varying Bible studies, some small groups have arisen organically, we pray for one another. How else might we receive and accompany people on their journey?
And the big question--are we ready to receive and accompany new disciples of Jesus? New people will bring diversity and change. Not all people do things the way we have always done it. Are we a congregation that says our way or no way? We have to realize that some of the things some of us have found lifegiving are not what people are seeking now as they reach out to Jesus. We have to admit that sometimes we just want more people in church, more people to do the work or better take over the way we do it our way and give money, so we don't close. I just don't think that is what Jesus was asking of us when we are called to accompany people on their journey of faith.
One place to start is how do we present ourselves. What about how we present ourselves on social media. We have a Facebook Page, a website (www.ascensionlc.org), a YouTube page. What do these pages communicate about who we are? Can you find us easily, including worship times? Is the website directed toward people who already have faith or would those who are new to faith figure out who we are. Do we present a positive and realistic impression of who we are?
How are visitors welcome when they enter the building? The author likens what we as church need to do to get ready as that which we do when we are expecting company at our homes. We spiffy up. We want to make sure the space is uncluttered, clean, functional. How might a visitor experience our building? Are there signs to the worship space, bathrooms, fellowship hall?
Do we offer other ways to become part of our community, the "back door" as was mentioned in the book? Some congregations offer Pub Theology or gatherings at restaurants for discussion.
Do we mind our manners? Do we leave people standing alone at coffee time, too engaged in seeing friends again that we ignore the visitor? Do we watch what we talk about in our gathering area after church--I have overheard some interesting conversation that those of us may just think oh that's just how Alfred is--but what do visitors think? Are we open about telling people why we like our church--maybe we have never even thought about that question.
How do we adapt and proclaim Jesus' story to those who know it best and those who have never heard?