What is the legacy that you want to leave?
That was the question that I want to think about together. In October and November, I attended two seminars: “Innovation Forum” (Nashville) and “Circuit Leaders Retreat” (Santa Cruz). I went there as the chair person of the Congregational Development Committee of our conference.
They did their job for us!
Our ancestors came to this continent and built a country that has been leading the world. Our Pilgrim Fathers and Mothers founded our country based on the teachings of the Bible. Still our presidents put their hands on the Bible and make their public oath before they start their jobs as the president of the United States of America. We are still the number one country in terms of the number of the missionaries spreading the Gospel all over the world.
We have to do our job also for our children and grand children!
However, can we keep this legacy in our generation? What does it take to succeed this wonderful legacy? What can I do to make it happen? The whole process is called “Multiplication.” It includes “invitation,” “nurturing,” and “sending.” If we keep this multiplication cycle going we can succeed the legacy of our ancestors. We can keep our Christian Identity in our country and spread the Gospel all over the world. All of us can do at least one of this work or all of them.
“Invitation” is the start!
At the Innovation Forum we first acknowledge that we have challenges. In the good old days people showed up when we built church buildings. These days, people do not come to church without invitation. To meet this new global reality we have to come up with new strategies and ideas to invite people. Diverse ideas were suggested and many success stories were shared. I tried to digest them and contextualize them for our church setting. Here are some ways we can do together:
- Personal invitation: Three times a year (Christmas, Easter, and Homecoming Sunday) we write down names of those whom we intend to invite and pray for them in advance. On that Sunday, we invite them. Some come and some don’t. Still after many years many will come.
- Personal Story: To invite others, we have to tell our personal story. Write down your personal story in three parts and tell it again and again till you can tell it anywhere anytime: How was I before I met Jesus (1 minute), How I met Jesus (2 minutes) and How I am different now (1 minute). For example, I was a law school student who wanted to be successful in the world (1 minute). However, I met Jesus when I helped my mother’s local church (2 minutes). Then my value, view-point, and vision (3V) were changed, I found my purpose, plan, and partner in ministry (3P), now I am living Simple, Serving, and sharing life (3S) (I minute). If you do not have your personal story, it is hard for you to invite others. So, work on it. Write that down. Tell first to the person whom you feel comfortable with. Then repeat with others.
- Invite people to your small groups: Christ Care Group, UMW circle, Good Timers, Thursday Yard Crew, Exercise Class, Meditation Class, Bible Study Groups, Choir, Orchestra, Craft Group, Knitting Group, AA group, and many other groups that people can build up relationship will work. Build up relationship first and share your story when the time is right.
- Public Invitation: We use Web site and last two Sundays we had visitors who came to our church after they check our church on line (Good Job, Web Team!). We will add personal stories. We will focus on Invitation. We also started using Invitation Card for those who move into our town. It is professionally done invitation card. We are also going to use Invitation Call for our church gatherings for anybody who gives his or her phone number to us. When we have church events like Chili Cook Off, Carol Sing, Guest Speakers, invite neighbors and friends.
“Nurturing” focus on multiplication!
When people come, we need to introduce them our small groups. Small groups can provide friendly and comfortable setting for growth. I encourage everybody to belong to three groups. For example, you can be a member of knitting group, UMW circle, and a Bible Study group. Or you can be a member of men’s small group, exercise group, and Thursday Crew. Or you can go to Good Timers, Pinochle group, and Bridge group. You can have fellowship and share your personal stories.
I will also provide New Members Class (how to be saved and blessed), Membership Class (what is our church mission and vision), Lenten Bible Studies (how to build a community of love), Advent Bible Studies (how to transform the world as disciples of Jesus), and Leadership Class (how to lead self, others, and leaders).
All these groups focus on multiplication. Small groups will grow and multiply. When they reach the number more than 12, I suggest the leaders to find a co-leader who can succeed the leadership. Then after the training is ripe and ready, the leader will start another small group. It is hard to share personal stories in a large group. Old members will be bored when they hear same stories over and over again. So, find new ears! Create new UMW circles, Christ Care groups, and other groups. “Be fruitful and multiply!”
“Sending” starts a new cycle!
When children grow they find their spouses and bear their own children, many times. That part is multiplication. They also contribute to the society when they grow. Same thing happen when the Christians grow. They serve both churches and communities. Many of our church members serve communities as paid workers and volunteers. When they show good examples as Christians, their lives become “Invitation” to Christ and to our church.
Many of our church members are also serving our church in many areas. New Christians see them and learn from them. They learn to be faithfully attending to church gatherings, giving joyfully, serving humbly, and supporting lovingly. Statistics says that visitors make up their minds within the first 3 minutes based on the impression that they have at church. So, parking lot (does it look inviting?), greeters and ushers (are they smiling?) and the bulletins and banners (are they attractive?) are important! However, we cannot live as Christians only for 3 minutes. We will improve those areas for the first 3 minutes but our life style and attitude are crucial for continuous relationship and nurturing. When we faithfully serve our church, they will learn more from our service and become fellow servants.
I am also trying to serve as much as I can. I visit people, attend all church events, give tithe and special offerings, participate all special events, go to neighbor events, meet everybody to tell my story. I pray that all my words and actions should be invitation.
So, let us go back to the first question. What is the legacy that you want to leave? You can build a building that your name on it. You can start a foundation that carries your name. You can start a new small group. You can bring new people to our church. You can bring your own children and grand children to our church. You can set up a memorial account for you or your beloved ones. You can start a new type of ministry either on line or off line. What is the legacy that you want to leave?