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The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Address Book and Church Growth

The address books of clergy and lay people are sources for inviting unchurched people to a parish newcomer Sunday. In those books are the names of people you know who are not members of a local church. Look on each alphabet page and see the people who are friends or relatives who could if they would respond to an invitation to attend a special church service with you.

Once or twice a year a church could have a special Sunday welcoming visitors and possible new members. The event should be user friendly, simple hymns, welcoming sermon – save hell-fire for next Sunday, streamlined liturgy, omit Nicene creed, lengthy prayers of the people, confession and absolution. Instruct people to greet each other at the peace. Welcome all to the holy table. Keep announcements to a minimum and ones that show and tell newcomers how they might join up – inquirers class, Bible study or prayer group. Have a fabulous coffee hour. Also, make sure they know they are your guests and are not to put money in the collection plate.

Here is where the address book comes in. Not only invite an unchurched person but also go to their home and pick them up and take them to the service. Take them out to lunch afterward and have a conversation about the experience they had of church.

Yes, I know the usual hesitations.
“I have asked them before and they didn’t come.” Well, ask them again.
“I am too embarrassed to invite people.” Well, get over it and try it anyway. You are inviting them to visit a place that you really love and enjoy.
“It feels like evangelism.” It is, we just call it inviting people.

Do not invite them to join. Just invite them to come to this service. Let them have a no-pressure experience of worship, music and the word. Invitations to join come later in a letter of thanks from the clergy and lay leasers indicating programs that the new potential member might enjoy.

Get their street number from your address book and write the person a personal hand written, not email, thank you note for joining you that Sunday.

Make sure they know they are not expected to give any money, they are your guests and the guest of the church.

Start now planning for this event that might kick-off the fall season at your church.

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