Who would have imagined that putting up a sign reading, “Ask Me About My Church” would cause such discussion?
“A sign on my front lawn advertising my church? Are you serious?” I’m not sure where the hesitation began.
Maybe it started with Queen Esther who was afraid to let anyone know she was a believer. Wherever it began, somehow sharing our faith became as risky as sharing the flu. We’re as afraid of giving our faith away as others are afraid of getting it. I thought then, naively, that a sign would be easier than saying, “How about if I give you a tract and we go door to door—even though the Presbytery of Oakridges actually did this very thing before we began here in Keswick?”
Now that was intimidating! How ominous could a sign be, I thought? We even gave suggestions to participants if people actually asked about their church. The easiest comeback was simply to say, “Why don’t I show you my church? Why don’t you be my guest this Sunday? I will pick you up and you can sit with me.”
But even with this suggestion, only 50 per cent of our congregation would be inspired to participate; and the average was even less in the non-mainline churches in our community that generally seem to be a lot better at this sort of thing than we are. But even they seemed to have some apprehensions.
Then there was a comment by a colleague who said to me after I had told him about the campaign, “I really only have one problem with this. Why do we leave the church off the hook when it comes to evangelism? Why do we expect anyone to ask us about anything? Isn’t that our job?”
I wanted to quickly begin singing the chorus of the unofficial anthem of the Presbyterian Church, We Are One in the Spirit and say, but “they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love.” But my friend had a point. Now don’t get me wrong, acts of mercy, justice and love are part of who we are. They’re part of our distinctiveness. Yet acts are sometimes not enough, and thus one reason for our “lack of passionate spirituality” and declining numbers within the PCC.
Please don’t misunderstand me: I don’t see this simple campaign as some miracle cure for the church. But what I am learning is that something like this can cause us to look internally even to the point of inspiring us to act.
Chances are, those of you reading this article grew up in the church and simply “inherited” your faith from your parents and/or your grandparents. But a new generation with no inheritance is looking to enter our buildings. And if they do make it in, chances are they have come because of a bold invitation by someone else in your church.
Few of us, if we were honest, speak about out faith on a daily basis. Whether we are ashamed, nervous, think people will laugh or believe others will be offended we often remain silent. How many of us can say someone is in our church because we invited them?
So maybe a sign on your front yard is not such a simple thing after all. Maybe those who put up the signs will be transformed as much or more than those who actually asked me about my church. I would love to hear your story. Let’s continue this discussion, shall we, at our churches, on Facebook, and maybe even, dare I say, on our streets?