Out My Window…

After a steady flow of weekend consulting trip and an ever-increasing number of conversations with pastors and church leaders and just “regular-ole” church folks, I’m offering a couple of observations that hopefully make the frequent flyer miles worthwhile. First, I’ve decided to never again be surprised by an airlines ability to mangle my travel plans…but that’s not really helpful.

A better first point is to note the connection between community growth and potential local church growth. While we consultants may not want to acknowledge community population trends as a key factor in our work, the truth is that if the town’s not growing, the church will, at least, struggle in its own efforts to grow. Many small towns are stagnant pools when it comes to church attendance. When a family has once attended each of the community’s congregations, they are seldom prime targets for committed involvement.

Growing churches in dying towns are quite rare.

So, it would seem to make sense that praying for the success of your town, its businesses, and its development plans would be a good idea. Getting your congregation involved in the community in ways that contribute to the mayor’s agenda or the city council’s plans could also help. After all, if your town begins drawing more people into its neighborhoods, you’ll find that success is a great partner for your own dreams of reaching more people.

My second observation is even more compelling. There’s nothing like people who are excited about their church. While I generally hope for a smaller person to sit next to me on an airplane (I’ll share the armrest, but prefer my seatmates fully fit into their own seats), the last several flights have allowed me to meet excited church attenders of all sizes (both waist sizes and church sizes). To listen to their upbeat portrayal of their discipleship journey inside what seems to be an amazing community of local believers is quite the pleasure. Often makes me wish my travel plans could accommodate the opportunity to join their friends for worship.

All the promotional campaigns in the world aren’t nearly as effective as one person excited about his local church. I’ve concluded that people want to talk about the good things in their lives, even when that good thing is their local church experience. Here’s to hoping that your church is the one they’re talking about on my next flight.

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