How would you describe your church?
As the new director of W & E ministry I want to thank my predecessor Lori Pilatzke for her work. I’ll do my best to offer creative resources and ideas to further the W & E ministry in your congregation. Let’s begin by talking about our ELCIC (mainline Protestant) churches.
Many of the churches in our synod would describe themselves as friendly. Some would go further and label themselves as welcoming. How many would take the next step and describe themselves as “inviting?” To be friendly is a good first step in echoing the ministry of hospitality found in the Old and New Testaments. To be welcoming is to take an additional step in the journey. One of my favorite moments in my current parish is when a visitor told me “I couldn’t join this church. People here are too friendly and welcoming. It’s too much.”
To be inviting, that is another matter. It sounds like evangelism which is often uncomfortable for most Lutherans – despite the first name of our church body being Evangelical. In a 2011 W & E blog post 89 synod congregations ordered materials for/participated in Back to Church Sunday (BTCS) – up from 14 in 2010. I invite those who have already participated in this program to try it again this year along with every congregation that has never tried it. This year an emphasis is upon inviting those who aren’t a part of a worshipping community, and doing so through a Season of Invitation – rather than just 1 Sunday. A Season of Invitation fits in not only with Witness-Evangelism and in being In Mission “With” Others, but is part and parcel to sharing the Good News.
In the weeks and months ahead I’ll keep you updated on the BTCS program, seminars and other materials. As today is Ash Wednesday, I pray that your worship service is inviting to all people of God.
Pastor Mark Van House