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 A Report from the Director MARCH 24, 2010 

Update March 24, 2010How Do New People See Your Church? Part II

New guests at worship can help us see things from the perspective of those not as familiar with our church as we are. Last month I reported two findings from a recent Lewis Center project which asked church members in different states to attend nearby churches as visitors and report on their findings for the benefit of the visited churches and other churches. This report covers three other findings.

Culture of Hospitality

While the visitors were welcomed upon arrival, usually by the official greeters and the pastor, most were not greeted by those sitting around them. More needs to be done to increase the welcoming spirit and practice of worshipers. An important step is to help members see themselves as the "hosts of Christ." A good host knows that the most important person is the stranger or the one left alone. If people can come to focus particularly on those they do not know, much good will result.

Until hospitality becomes a part of the congregational ethos, some steps can be taken immediately. Additional greeters can be stationed inside the sanctuary to welcome people, especially newcomers, and then to make sure they are greeted when the service is over and invited to a fellowship time or a study group. Guests sometimes arrive early, and their waiting time can feel awkward if no one is reaching out to them.

Another sign of hospitality is providing guest parking. It is common today to find reserved first-time guest parking just as handicapped parking is provided. This is another strong signal that you have new people attending and that you are expecting your guests.

Congregational Participation

The word "liturgy" means "the work of the people." Visitors report a high energy level among most worship leaders but not so much within the congregations themselves. Music and singing may be one way to increase the engagement of everyone. Using a mixture of hymns for which different groups have energy can be particularly helpful. Also, choirs need to remember that leading and enhancing congregational singing may be their most important function.

Having worshipers spread out in too large an area also reduces the energy of the service. If attendance is far below your sanctuary's seating capacity, some portion might be roped off. Paying special attention to times in the service when engagement is highest will give an opportunity to build upon those times. And energy tends to increase when the elements of the service move smoothly. Reducing time gaps and staying on schedule will help hold people's attention.

Involvement of Younger People

Many visitors were struck by how few younger people were in worship leadership. Brainstorm various ways of involving people across all ages in worship responsibilities. Having younger people visible in worship will not go unnoticed by current members and new people. Such involvement need not be in only one part of worship. Be creative in thinking of many ways younger people can be involved. Begin slowly and build. When you seek to involve new leaders in worship, be attentive to the extra time required for training and coordination.

Lovett H. Weems, Jr.

Read How Do New People See Your Church? Part I.

2010 Funding Resource Package Available

Practice that Lead to Greater Giving DVD Those who missed the March 20 Lewis Center Funding Your Congregation's Vision conference, "Practices that Lead to Greater Giving," may order the electronic resource package with DVDs and other resources from the conference. The package includes videos of the plenary presentations by Lewis Center Director Lovett H. Weems, Jr., and Wesley Seminary President David McAllister-Wilson. The package also includes a CD with PowerPoint presentations, articles, and other resources from workshops by the plenary presenters and by Ann A. Michel and Mauri Bishop from Wesley Seminary on these subjects: Moving People from First-Time Givers to Joyful Generosity, Your Church's Thank You System, Resources for Offering Personal Financial Planning, Stewardship Education in Worship, and What Laity Wish Their Pastor Knew about Economic Life. The cost is $60. Shipment is within two weeks. Resource packages from the 2008 and 2009 Funding Your Congregation's Vision events are also available. Click here to learn more or order online.

Reaching Younger People – The Millennials

Pew Forum on Religion & Public LifeThe Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has issued a major research report on religion among those currently between 18 and 29 years of age. To read more about, or download, Religion Among the Millennials: Less Religiously Active Than Older Americans, But Fairly Traditional in Other Ways, go to: http://pewforum.org/Age/Religion-Among-the-Millennials.aspx.

Revised Edition of Weems's Church Leadership Now Available

Church Leadership Revised EditionAbingdon Press has just released a revised edition of Church Leadership: Vision, Team, Culture, and Integrity by Lovett H. Weems, Jr. The first edition, published in 1993, has been described as one of the defining texts in the literature of church leadership. The revised edition draws on the best new ideas and research in organizational leadership, while maintaining the emphasis on how leaders can help congregations discover where God is calling them and step faithfully into that future. Burt Nanus, coauthor of the bestseller Leaders, calls Church Leadership "the best work I have seen on the leadership of religious institutions."

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