The Church of England has something good to share with people and what’s more, people are genuinely looking for it and interested!
We tend to assume that newcomers to church will ‘probably be bored’, ‘won’t want to be there’ or are ‘not interested’. This is particularly true of our view of the people who attend our occasional offices (christenings, weddings and funerals). I am increasingly discovering, however, that people are open to being contacted again by us after they’ve attended a wedding, baptism or funeral, and that they want more of what we have to offer, namely: a sense of belonging and a ‘place to put the emotions that won’t go anywhere else‘ (as Rowan Williams once put it).
To give you some simple examples:
People do actually want what we are offering, they do want the Good News, but unfortunately, we have been hiding our light under a bushel for too long.
These days, if you buy anything online or visit a chain restaurant or tourist attraction, you are immediately invited to take further action – you will probably receive an email newsletter, an invitation for money off something, or simply some information about other events. It’s the classic ‘other people who bought this also liked…’ trick, so well used by the likes of Amazon. We are used to this and we don’t mind (there is always the unsubscribe button).
Now, don’t get me wrong, we are not ‘selling a product’ at church but what we are doing is inviting people to be a part of our, and God’s, community. Or at least we should be, and one of the best ways in which we can do that is to try and keep that invitation open.
At a recent consultation event on Baptisms that I attended, I was told that research conducted by the Church of England highlighted that 9/10 people wanted the church to keep in touch after their child’s baptism but that only 3/10 people expected that to happen.
Why do we think that people won’t want us to get in touch with them again after they’ve come to us for something like a wedding? Booking a service with us is a big step in the first place, a big vote of confidence, and yet, we worry that people won’t be interested.
The good news is that there are some very simple ways in which we can keep the invitation open, here are some that we use in our parish:
If you are interested in starting to use social media in your church or organisation you might want to start with this article I wrote here.
Let’s keep that invitation open!