Monday, July 27, 2009

Worship: Fridge or Radiator

Everybody Welcome is a new resource from Bob Jackson on making newcomers welcome in church. It's arrived just in time to be imbibed before Back to Church Sunday, and looks really good. It asks some basic but important questions:

- How many people 'try out' your church each year?
- Do they feel welcome?
- Do they come back?
- What would happen if 10%, 25% or even 50% of your visitors became regular members of your congregation?

Those last two are so important: what proportion of our visitors come back? Have we got used to it being 5% (or even worse 0%), when it could be much more than that?

Everybody Welcome is a 5 session course to help churches become more welcoming. There's a CofE news release, with outline of the course, a preview of the DVD (see below), and a substantial chunk of the accompanying book here. I was spoilt for choice for things to quote, but settled on this:

So the question is this – how can we make our worship warm and genuine? This is not just a question for the vicar or the worship leader or the choir master. It is for all of us because the spiritual temperature of the event is mainly controlled by the spiritual temperature of our own hearts. How can I best allow the warmth of my own relationship with God to shine through my worship?

This is about how I sing, how I pray, how I respond to the preacher’s joke, how I relate to people before the service, during the Peace and at the end. But it is also about how my relationship with God is nourished and sustained during the week. If I am used to praying and reading the Bible, and if I arrive a little early in order to prepare myself, then it is much more likely I will be one of the spiritual radiators in the church rather than one of the fridges.

Not sure how much of this you'd guess from the coverage in the Telegraph 'Church tells worshippers to give special treatment to overweight or bald people'. I initially wondered if this was a story about bishops, but discovered it wasn't (bang goes my preferment!)


  1. 'Church tells worshippers to give special treatment to overweight or bald people'

    When it comes to valuing bald, fat guys will Christianity ever be able to compete with Buddhism?

  2. not if the statues in our local garden centre are anything to go by.

  3. Perhaps more important than the percentage of visitors who stay is what kinds of visitors they are. Quite a lot of Christians from other churches visit my church, prefer it to their own, and stay (although the vicar doesn't encourage them to). Few of the non-Christian or non-churchgoing visitors stay. So the church grows - but not by evangelism or bringing back those who have fallen away. Thus we are not really advancing the kingdom, just extending our own borders within it.

    "bang goes my preferment" Why? Because you aren't going to benefit from "special treatment to overweight or bald people"? ;-)

  4. Most of our visitors are people enquiring about weddings and baptism, attending to have their banns read, or visiting family and friends for the holidays. We've had one or two join from other churches, but we don't go out of our way to encourage that. And, like you say, few of the non-churchgoing visitors stay.

    Overweight: yes. Bald: no. Maybe the CofE will soon move from 'bums on pews' counts of membership to the amount of room taken by said backsides - the church is just as full as it was, but it now takes less people to fill it!