Pastors in Mennonite Church Eastern Canada periodically receive an interdenominational newsletter called The Parish Paper. This newsletter analyzes current issues congregations face, while keeping an eye on popular North American culture.
Some months ago the newsletter was entitled, “Why Do People Connect with Christ and a Congregation?” The article notes that first-time church attendees usually come because they have been invited by someone in the congregation. It also argues that first-time visitors are more likely to return—and that members are more likely to invite non-attendees–if the church exhibits “seven magnetic factors.” Those factors are:
- The style and tempo of worship hymns fit the newcomer’s ages and preferences. (Music needs to be upbeat, familiar or easy to sing, and appealing for worshippers from these four eras: pre-1946, 1946-64, 1965-90, 1991-present.)
- The sermons inspire newcomer-adults with biblical insights about how to live a meaningful life. (Emphasis should be on Christ, the Bible, and love.)
- The pastors and staff exhibit strong spiritual traits—enthusiasm, joy, vision—and have personalities to which prospective adult attendees can relate.
- There are strong children and youth ministries for young adult parents.
- A wide variety of programs makes newcomers feel “there is something here for every member of the family.” (For example, musical groups, strong Sunday School classes, a young-adult fellowship.)
- The congregation is friendly and newcomers feel welcomed and wanted. (Trained greeters help give a positive first impression.)
- The church is a reasonable driving distance from most members’ residences.
Obviously, these “magnetic” churches tend to be larger than The First Mennonite Church.
Nevertheless, even though we are small, what are the “magnetic” aspects of our congregation? Are we comfortable inviting persons from non-church backgrounds?