Some who read this will know that, a few months ago, our son and his family moved from a metropolitan area to a much smaller town. The town to which they moved had been their home a few years earlier. For our son and his wife, it was somewhat of a homecoming.
However, this was not exactly true for their children. Due to their ages, they do not remember as much as do their parents about the smaller town.
Recently, I took advantage of an opportunity to talk to our eight-year-old grandson about the move. I asked what I thought was a pretty open-ended question. I merely asked him how he liked it where he now lives and how it compared to city they had left.
I thought it was very interesting that he said nothing at all about the populations of the two places, the places to shop in either place, the recreational opportunities, or many other things that one might consider to be very important. He chose something completely different to talk about.
His first (and only) thought had to do with the number of friends he had in each place. He liked the fact that there were more friends on the street where he and his family used to live in the larger community. At the same time, he told me that he also had a lot of friends where he is now; especially at church. His “final analysis” was that both places were good.
I know that church growth is a fascination for many people. It would almost not be an exaggeration to say that it is an obsession for some.
Books are written; seminars are conducted; speeches are made; CDs and DVDs are produced, and so on. All of this is done in order to help local congregations to grow.
While I am sure that most, if not all, of these have much to be said for them, it is my very firm belief that none of them will produce the desired results if a congregation is not friendly.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that providing a friendly atmosphere would do more to attract and keep people than any other technique devised by some of the “church growth experts” of our day. Things like architecture, facilities, worship styles, building location, etc. struggle to overcome a cold, unloving, and unwelcoming group of people.
We all know people who desperately need to have a close relationship with the Lord. It might very well be that a close relationship with a Christian could help pave the way for that relationship with Him.
I’m thankful to our grandson for a reminder.
Photo background credit: David Amsler on Creative Commons