In A Nutshell | October 1, 2021

Let Everyone Know that Oak Chapel Has a Place for Them

The vacations we took as a family when I was growing up were modest at best — usually a destination within four hours of our home in suburban Pittsburgh. My parents were kind, loving, and generous people, but they were also very frugal and sometimes spontaneous.

I remember going to Seven Springs in Pennsylvania and Niagara Falls on the domestic side in New York, along with various other locations. What I don’t remember is that much advanced planning went into the process. My mother and father would consult briefly, and before I knew it we were on our way — no lodging reservations that I recall. We would drive the backroads of Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio, and not really look for a place to stay until evening.

Along the way, we would scout out inexpensive motels and pull over for the night, provided that the sign out front didn’t say, “No Vacancy.” Often, we would pass motels with outdoor pools, air conditioning, and color television in the room — all luxuries to us — but those places would always fill up first, so we would move on to the next option some 10, 20, or even 30 miles down the road. Eventually, we would find a place with a “Vacancy” sign, and heave a collective sigh of relief.

I often wonder if we should put such a sign in front of our church. After all, we have plenty of vacancies in the form of open pews and opportunities for service. And now, we can boast that we have air conditioning and color television, although an outdoor pool is not part of our long-range planning, at least not right now.

So, what do we do with our vacancies? How do we get people to pull over and stop in? We could advertise more in both traditional and social media, but that may not be enough to fill our sanctuary. What might we do to encourage people to join us?

Actually, I think the best way to get people to consider coming to Oak Chapel is to simply invite them. Word-of-mouth is one of the oldest forms of persuasion, and also one of the most effective. If you are willing to share your positive experiences here at the church with others, chances are they might be moved to join us.

Imagine what it would be like with a bustling Sanctuary on a Sunday morning. Consider the possibilities of multiple Sunday School classes, including those devoted to children, youth, and young adults.

Sure we could print flyers and post messages on Facebook — and there is something to be said for those efforts — but a good old-fashioned endorsement, like the ones we share when we’ve eaten at a great restaurant or seen a great movie, are the most compelling. People listen to what others say, especially when those others are respected family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.

It’s easy to be discouraged by a Sanctuary that is less than half full, but instead of lamenting the situation, we can do something about it with a simple but enthusiastic invitation, something like this from Psalm 66:5 – “Come and see what God has done; He is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.”

Indeed, it is quite likely that the reason people don’t come to commune with God is that they don’t know Him. Let us be the ones to open the door, welcome them in, and introduce them to the Lord.

Until We Meet Again, Be Blessed! – Pastor John

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