Saturday, January 31, 2009

Closing the Back Door #2

When we first started PCC we were a very small church meeting in an old high school cafeteria. There were many Sunday mornings that we would come in only to find food, trash, and all sorts of debris on the floor or stuck to the wall. Since the cafeteria also doubled as the school’s wrestling team practice location, it smelled like a locker room. The air conditioners failed often in the summer, and the heaters were inadequate in the winter. Compared to other churches in the area who had their own buildings, comfortable seating, state of the art technology, fresh restrooms, and sanitary nursery’s, we were lacking. We simply could not offer the same amenities that other churches were able to offer.

Yet we grew.

Basically what we did was take the money and resources that would have otherwise gone into slick programming and instead poured it into making our church more welcoming and friendly. Rather than being cool, hip, and offering the best dog and pony show in town, we made the decision to serve our people so well that they would want to bring their friends, without being asked to do so, even if it meant bringing them to a damp cafeteria.

Basically, we created a church service that was effective for come-and-see evangelism, while velcroing newcomers to our church for long-term spiritual growth. We encouraged people to connect relationally in friendship circles, small groups, ministry teams, and other networks. We understood that godly relationships are the glue that holds a church together, which contributed to rentention of our members, spiritual growth for individuals, and spiritual health for PCC.

Of course we have people go out the back door. That’s a given. Usually its over some issue like serving coffee at church or non-essential points of theology. But historically, over eleven years, our back door has been virtually closed. That’s why we grow. That’s why we have so many long-term members. That’s why we are a healthy church.

Even a small trickle can flood the whole house if everything is locked up tight.