Fifth, partnership. Most of our churches have engaged in formal evangelism over the years. The difference this time is that we are all involved in doing it together. It is a co-ordinated campaign, with local variations, but the same aims. This provides us with an opportunity to partner with each other in this important work – to ask the parish next door for ideas or for help, for example. I have had a dream that churches may even offer each other teams of people to help to do some of the necessary work. The team itself will return rejoicing and so much better equipped for gospel work than when they left. We also have great resources in this Diocese in organisations like Anglicare, ARV, Youthworks, Moore College, the Schools Corporation and the Secretariat. I have been excited by the way that the leadership of these organisations have been excited by Connect 09. They are true partners.
Sixth, preparation. I mean by this preparing our churches for new people to join. Many churches would say that there are already between 100 and 200 such people per year, or three or four a week. For some there are fewer; for others many more, in some cases over a thousand. In most cases Rectors have plans about what to do with new people in order to integrate them. But this cannot be the Rector’s job alone. We must all be aware of the phenomenon of the visitor and ask ourselves what we intend to do to make people welcome and feel that they can come back.
How seriously do we take this? Have we already begun a thorough shaking up of our welcome, our facilities, our signage, our seating, our cry-rooms, our morning tea, the temperature in the building, our music, our follow-up, our lighting, our accessibility to the disabled”¦ the list is endless. Sometimes we need to look again at what we do in church, our reading, our prayers, our preaching. Sometimes ministers want to do these things but are discouraged by lay resistance; sometimes ministers are the problem. Can I urge you to work together on this?
Read it all.