During the last of 5 Easter services at SeaCoast Grace I stopped to talk with a woman sitting alone on a bench. I soon learned that she was sitting there (and not in the service) because it she had left the auditorium to use the restroom and hadn’t been allowed back in…and also "the music was so loud it hurt my ears," she said. "It’s getting to be such a production," she said. "And it’s really crowded…too crowded."
After talking for a couple minutes I learned that she’d been part of our church for many years and longed for the past when it was just about the people who were already coming…and really not about connecting with anyone else. And if you’ve been part of the conversation here at StrategyCentral then you know what I attempted to do over the next few minutes!
First, I said, "Well, I’m sorry you couldn’t get back into the auditorium. We’re simply trying to make the last 30 minutes a great experience for the hundreds of people in the room who don’t know God so they can really connect. Many of them are new. Many of them are only here on this weekend. And what we’re doing is trying to be really good stewards of those moments."
Hearing that she said, "But do they really come back the next week?" I said, "hundreds of them did after Christmas Eve. Our weekend attendance increased by over 10% in January and February." She thought about that and said, "But it’s so loud! And so crowded!" I said, "we’re using a music style designed to connect with the people who aren’t coming yet." What I wanted to say and didn’t say was that just like Jesus we’re not here just to take care of what we already have! We’re here to help people who are far from God get close enough to find HIm!
Turns out, I didn’t have to say it. By the end of our conversation she said, "You know, I think it’s mostly that I just like things to be my way. And I need to keep in mind that it’s really not just about me! Thanks for taking the time to talk with me today."
One more person who seemed to understand that it’s not just about what we already have. That’s it really is about connecting with the people who are on the outside! And that was a really good moment.
For more on the idea that we’re not here just for the ones we’ve already reached, check out Who Do We Exist For?