Dear Friends through Christ:
This particular corona virus has been a formidable foe, especially for the church. Covid-19 has chased away over half the people from worship in one single year, and the Delta Variant has kept them from returning. Just a few months ago, I felt this form of evil was slowly winding down, but it has reared its ugly head again, causing us to make changes on the fly. Our original goal of combining the two worship services into one, with Sunday morning Bible study and choir have been postponed from early September to a “wait and see what this thing does” date. We have our work cut out for us.
Twenty years ago, 70% of Americans claimed they belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque. In the year 2019, the number of Americans claiming to have a church home dropped to 47%. Using 325,000,000 as our population, that means, the church has lost 74,800,000 saints and sinners in the past twenty years. And this is a number before the pandemic! Factor in the virus, and one can add another 76,350,000, or 50% of self-proclaiming Christians leaving the church this past year alone. Will they return? Your guess is as good as mine.
What does all this mean? It means less than 25% of the population of the United States of America will be attending worship this coming Sunday. Again, Peace has her work cut out. We cannot return to yesteryear, but we can do something, and we’d better start doing it sooner rather than later.
I do not enjoy being the bearer of a grim news. But it doesn’t have to be this way. With Christ Jesus in our hearts, we begin to understand what the Apostle Paul writes in Roman 8:28, “For we know that all things work together for good for those who love God.” With 75% of the U.S. population being either un-churched or de-churched the harvest is definitely plentiful. I trust that God will work through our efforts to rebuild this glorious house of worship.
We have worked hard the past couple of years getting our church facility functional and looking great. Thank-you for that support! We have a beautiful worship service, especially for the baby boomers and older, who happen to be the largest group of people claiming they plan to return to church when the pandemic is behind us, and a large percentage of these claim they are open to a new place of worship.
So how do we begin to reach at least a small portion of the 250,000,000 people who feel the worship of God is no longer important?
Did you know that “word of mouth” is the most effective way to grow a business or a church? More effective than all other forms of advertising combined! Word of mouth truly works. But a person must use their mouth in order for the best form of advertising to work. We can no longer assume most of the people we know already have a church and are happy there.
What about this? Start making a list of the people you care about the most. When you feel the time is right, simply ask, “Do you have a church home?” If they answer, “No,” then simply say to them “Come and See.” When this virus gets behind us (and it will) invite everyone on that list. It’s a start. More people walk through the doors of a church because someone they knew invited them. The harvest is plentiful.
The second most effective form of advertising is signage. During the sale of the property, the buyer shared with me last year’s traffic count of cars that pass our property. On the average, 11,490 cars pass Peace Lutheran Church, daily. Our current sign is old and for the most part unreadable. I can envision a beautiful sign allowing over 10,000 people a day, who are living and working close to Peace Church, to see us. Our neighbors will always know what is happening inside, day after day, week after week. If the new sign brings in only one person per month, the sign would pay for herself in around three years. There are pictures of what I have in mind in the Narthex. The harvest is plentiful.
An example of how God works through all things can be seen in the church’s online presence. The virus forced us to figure out how our parishioners might hear the gospel during our two month shutdown. Now our postings are viewed by approximately 350 people per week. I will continue to share the message on Facebook. Perhaps when we begin to host events, our hard work will pay off.
Speaking of events, I can also picture a beautiful shelter house in our court yard, hosting all kinds of events and ministries. Saturday evening worship service has always done well at the previous churches I’ve served, but I have always felt an outdoor worship under cover will reach even more of the younger crowd, those wanting something not so churchy and those who work on Sunday. The picnic shelter can host all kind of things like community potlucks, ice cream socials, craft shows, car shows, blessing of the animals, multiple outdoor classes, or rented to our friends and neighbors for celebrations. Pictures of this vision are also in the narthex. The harvest is plentiful.
Yes I know, times are a little tough right now, but like I said, trust that God will work through our efforts to rebuild this glorious house of worship. Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts and visions.
“For we know that all things work together for good for those who love God.” Roman 8:28
In Christian Love,
Pastor David Trexler