It was really to good to catch up with people at church this morning. My mate Steve, in particular, was there. He's a missionary in North London and it's always a joy to see and pray with him. He's bringing a group to our church in October to do a bit of training.
In the course of our conversation about strategies, it dawned on me that we need a strategy that deals with three key issues we face as churches: visibility, credibility and the what's-in-it-for-me? factor.
Most people in our communities don't see our churches. How often have you described where your church is and people have said 'oh I didn't realise there was a church there.' I often used to say to Christians that people outside the church don't see the church as irrelevant, they don't see the church - fullstop. I still thinks that true.
Over this summer we've done a couple of things to raise our profile and make us more visible. One was to put a bouncy castle in the high street and invite kids to play. This was led by another church in our community but we were glad to join in. The other was to run a holiday club for senior citizens. Both these events were about getting the church seen. And a few more people saw us.
Then, there's our credibility - when we do things are we competent, do we do what we advertise, do we deliver what we claim we're going to? This is vital in today's world. I think it means churches ought to do less, but to do the few they do really well.
finally, there's the dreadful consumer question - what's in it for me? We might bemoan the fact that we live in a consumer society, but we do; it's one of the circumstances in which we have to do mission (I'll be blogging about circumstances later in the week because I'm thinking a lot about this word at the moment).
So everything we do has to meet a need of some kind if it's going to attract people who think the church is both invisible and incredible.
Does this sound like a good trio of factors to consider every time we do something in our communities? I think so. Maybe it would lead us to do things that are both more fun and more relational. And who knows, we might find ourselves meeting real needs and seeing people come to faith as a result.