A few days ago the Christmas edition of our Community News went to the printers ready for delivery over the next few weeks. Three times a year we post a small newsletter to 2,600 homes around the neighbourhood in which our church buildings are located. Inside is an invitation to a special service (like Easter or Christmas) and usually a testimony from somebody. We also take the opportunity to promote something that might be of interest (e.g. our Toy Library).
Generally, we get very little response. That said some people have paid us a visit or got involved in one of our groups after hearing from us in this way. Occasionally it has been the beginnings of a journey that has led somebody to faith. For us, that makes it all worthwhile.
A few years ago we sent out the same Community News but this time it said, “We are going to have a party, would you like to come?” The party was to celebrate our church community being 150 years old. The reply that came back took us by surprise as much as it thrilled it: “Yes – we love parties – we’re coming!” And they did, in their droves. We were pleasantly overwhelmed as hundreds came.
Somehow, we had made a connection. A party is something that people connect with. Parties are an icon of our age: birthday parties, leaving parties, Christmas parties, wedding parties, Tupperware parties, jewellery parties, Body Shop parties … the list could go on. We love parties. So when we announced we were having a party. Everyone said: “Great, see you there!” We had made a connection.
In effect our neighbours were saying to us: “We don’t understand your church services, and we don’t really “get” what you do in there week by week, but a party we do understand and we’re willing to come.”
We need a lot more parties, and from what I read about Jesus he would certainly agree.