It seems that a common discussion in churches is the question of how we can grow our congregation. How do we invite, connect, and follow through with new people? But moreover– WHY do we want to?
Bishop Alan reflected that we don’t really have any “pew warmers” here in our congregation; he feels that the people coming to church are coming because they love the community and want to deepen their faith. It was encouraging (but not really surprising) to hear that from someone who has a bird’s-eye view of things.
We really do have a faithful community of believers here, and those believers have found something true and authentic to connect with. THAT’S why we want to grow; so there’s more people to share in the love of Christ.
A long time ago a youth leader said to me “it’s often hard for me to get here because I’m tired and I’ve worked all week; but then when I leave I feel so energized from being with the youth.” I replied “That’s how you know you’re doing the right work”. That energy, that authenticity, is a message that we are doing what God has called us to.
On Sunday we had our first day of children’s and youth ministry programming for the 2022-23 school year. And I witnessed authenticity and energy in so many places:
- In the joy of Sandy Baxter who said she woke up early with excitement, ready to be in Atrium as a catechist .
- In a conversation between Gayle Davies and Jacob about a hard-to-find native seed that they had both just come across in their separate garden circles (you should have seen their faces light up with mutual understanding).
- In Michael Roche and the youth group in a discussion about creating a culture that included how to go back out into the world and not just exist in a basement.
- In inquiries from a 9 year old who is eager to get back to her work in the Atrium next week.
- In the unabashed, scream-y delight of a 2 and 3 year old running around the courtyard in the rain with deflated balloons.
- In Amy’s smile of welcome when suddenly 31 extra people showed up at the very end of Eucharist to receive the body of Christ, albeit a bit late (yes, that’s how many of us were in children’s and youth ministry!)
It is so rewarding to experience this true connection to the work we are called to do. Catechists, youth leaders, children and teenagers–these are the people I get to witness, but the call goes beyond that. Why do YOU come to Grace? What is your authentic joy and connection–what are the times when you walk away saying to yourself “Yeah, THAT’S what it’s all about!” What is happening here for you that you want to invite others to experience?
It was again Bishop Alan who generously reflected after my possibly-grumpy-but-true sermon a few weeks ago that I show up not because it’s my job but because it is my call. And I’m so grateful that Sunday reminded me of that.