Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Suppose you gave an Alpha Course and nobody came?

As the Evangelism Elder at Stodgy Presbyterian, I'm tasked with trying to reach the unchurched in the surrounding community; to teach them about, as Paul said, "Jesus Christ and Him crucified". In order to do that, I've tried a few things, mailed postcards to targeted households, paid newspaper ads, new church sign. Some of those have been effective to a point, it got people in the door, but didn't make them stay.

The other problem is that this church has a lot of pew sitters, but no true disciples. Oh they put a lot of time into church 'functions' but none into church evangelism. They're ready in a flash to assist at Sunday School, but only with the curriculum they're really comfortable with (IE: been in use for over 5 years or more), and only when their kids are in the class.

This is a congregation where most would not understand (or recognize) the Westminster Confession if someone hit them across the skull with it. To say that they could use a refresher course in Christianity would be an understatement.

I've been really impressed with the Alpha Course as a way to bring people to Christ, and as a way to present a refresher course in Christianity to the congregation. I am committed to hold the Alpha course here as a way to give members and non-members alike a way to find out "Is there more to life than this?". I dutifully advertised the course in the church bulletin, on the web, on the church sign. I talked prior to worship letting people know that its a great evening with good food, good talk, good discussions, and good desserts.

I had sign ups from outside the church, and from inside the church. I knew I was going to start out small, but I hoped to have at least 10. Well, I had 6 signed up, and half that showed up today. The good news, is that all of the church members who signed up appeared, and I already knew that one person was not going to be there tonight, but I had hoped that the other 2 sign ups would show; they missed some good food.

While disappointing, it wasn't the biggest disappointment; only three people from this congregation signed up (I don't count the 7 volunteers, including me, who are small group leaders, greeter or the course director).

We have anywhere from 10 to 12 people at adult Sunday School, however the same people are also seen at the Monday afternoon Pastor-led study, a few are also at the Wednesday night small group, and then some of the same faces are at the every-other-Sunday evening group. Out of a purported membership of 260, and a weekly Sunday attendance averaging 92, we see 12 people (give or take) who actually try to learn more about their faith. Of those 12, 2 showed up tonight.

Talk about a frustrating job. You can't have an effective evangelism ministry to the community, when most members can't take the time to become better disciples, and thus evangelists, themselves.

Can you tell I'm very frustrated and very depressed.

And so it goes ....

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