No, this isn’t a question about your relationship status…or is it? The other day I was in a discussion about church growth, engagement and membership. Granted these are not the “cool” parts of church (lights and sound, staging, facilities) but they are foundational things of a living church. Seems these days that we put such a strong emphasis on “attending” church. Did you realize that Jesus never said “attend me”. His call was to “follow me”. We don’t attend the church…we ARE the church!
I remember the temptation as a Lead Pastor for 15 years to always want to come up with new ideas; unique and creative strategies to “attract” people to our church. We often asked why the growth was not happening at the same rate as we were creating this amazing attraction. Then the light build moment happened for all of us: perhaps we should stop trying to attract people and start trying to engage them! Fact is, attendance grows out of engagement. When people become engaged, they find a personal way to participate that makes them more excited about the community and that builds the congregation.
I have often heard it said that if you build something attractive, people will come. I have a bit different slant on that these days...if we build the people that come, we will have something attractive.
What defines engagement then? Is it our attendance? Not according to Jesus. Is it the amazing performances each year and our gorgeous facilities with moving lights and state of the art sound. I think not. It’s our investment into the lives of those that we stand and serve alongside of…the church of the living God. Remember, WE (people) are the church. Webster’s says that engagement is “emotional involvement or commitment”. So we make a terrible mistake when we evaluate our church by what we get out of it. We should be looking at what we are putting into it. Our time, our talents and our treasures. The gift of engagement is YOU!
So, are YOU engaged? I guess it really is a relationship status question. Are you engaged in your faith community? Maybe it’s time to change your relationship “status”.
I’d love to hear some of your thoughts about this topic as well. Send me a note (firstname.lastname@example.org) or find us on Facebook and post your comment.