Saturday, February 1, 2014

What works for evangelism (and a free Gottesdienst subscription contest)

Everybody needs a hobby. Chuck, what are your hobbies? Evangelism? Chuckie....that's the Synodical sport.

But many evangelism efforts in Lutheran parishes peter out because laity and pastor alike get discouraged by the amount of time and effort put in on the one hand and the paucity of new members and baptisms on the other. This is most common in established, demographically constant communities where most everybody is a Christian already (though obviously not most everybody is active in their faith). In a quickly growing community, things are different. Many of the folks moving in will be Lutheran, or making a new start in their lives, and they will be happy to hear from your parish. In that setting, a "welcome committee" and a subscription to an agency that gathers public mortgage data for your zipcode is effort well spent.

I have heard good things about another tactic for seeking out God's elect from men who serve in an urban context. They will go to homes throughout their neighborhood, knock on the door, and instead of doing a Kennedy Evangelism presentation, they will say, "We're from St. Ira Dei Lutheran Church on the corner of State and Main. How can we pray for you and your family? Is there anything you need?"

So in the growing suburbs, get a few outgoing folks and a subscription to a service that will give you new mortgage addresses. Have your welcome committee stop by with a welcome basket and an invitation to Sunday services. In the city, lead with mercy; just meet people and pray for them and leave your card. That's what I hear from faithful guys on the ground: those are the good leads in those places.

But every place is different: in the city always a reflection, in the woods always a sound. So around here in rural/semi-rural communities where the majority of LCMS parishes reside: Where's the gold? You know, I'm reluctant to tell you. You might think I'm lazy. But here's what I've found: I've already got the good leads. The good leads, the [expletive deleted] Glengarry leads are my list of delinquent members.


They've been right here all the time!

Cute, huh? Cute as a pail full of kittens. But it's true. You'd be delighted if I said I could hand you a list of names of people who would be glad to hear from the pastor when something went wrong in their lives; who would want to see you at their bedside if you heard they fell ill; who would send their kids to be catechized if you sent them a letter letting them know when the class was. Well, you've already got that list.

So I don't worry too much about cleaning up the rolls: worry is like interest paid in advance on a debt that never comes due. I don't look at them as delinquents, problems, or a load of work. I pray for them and I look at them as evangelism leads and just wait for one of them to have a heart attack or a baby and then get to work.

+HRC

PS: Free Gottesdienst Subscription for you to give to a non-subscriber to the first commenter that lists all the David Mamet references in this post.  Well, maybe just to the fellow who gets most of them. Some are hard.

6 comments:

  1. Second place is a set of steak knives. Third place is YOU'RE FIRED.

    Glengarry Glen Ross.

    Oh, and by the way, that Alec Baldwin monologue was written SPECIFICALLY for the film. It's not in the play.

    Coffee is still for closers ONLY.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, yes, Fr. Juhl all true: but there is much more Mamet here. I thought we would have more fans among our readership - so you may still pull out a free subscription. . .

      +HRC

      Delete
  2. Well I don't know if this is all of them, but here's what I came up with:

    "Everybody needs a hobby. Chuck, what are your hobbies? Evangelism? Chuckie....that's the Synodical sport." (a creative take on an Alec Baldwin line in State and Main)

    "We're from St. Ira Dei Lutheran Church on the corner of State and Main." (an in your face reference to State and Main)

    “I've already got the good leads. The good leads, the [expletive deleted] Glengarry leads are my list of delinquent members.” (another in your face reference, this time to Glengarry Glen Ross)

    “Cute as a pail full of kittens.” (direct quote from the always impressive Ricky Jay in Heist)

    "worry is like interest paid in advance on a debt that never comes due" (another great Ricky Jay quote, this one from The Spanish Prisoner)

    Too bad you couldn't work in the "Sister, I've just come from a fire" line or a link to bazoomer.com. Also I like Juhl's idea on the prizes for second and third place in this contest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now we're rolling! Nice work especially on the Spanish Prisoner. But there's at least one more obscure one. And really one of my favorites. Don't know why it didn't get the budget to go big.

      +HRC

      Delete
  3. Okay I see it but I will plead Google on this one:

    "in the city always a reflection, in the woods always a sound" (From Spartan)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'll take the free subscription!

    ReplyDelete