I had the opportunity to attend the Reach Summit last weekend in Troy. I have appreciated this event since its inception a few years ago, but was unable to attend last year so I was pleased to attend this year.
One of the seminars I went to was a workshop on MissionInsite. I’ve used this tool in the Local Church and on the District for all the years we have had it available to our Annual Conference. It is a treasure trove of information.
The seminar addressed the MOSAIC types material MissionInsite provides. MOSAIC types, in simplest terms, help you identify groups of people by life stage, interests, and several other factors. It helps understand the folks living in neighborhoods around a given church, and can guide a church as they think about how their programs might resonate with their unique communities’ needs. It is a very helpful tool.
Of course, for MOSAIC types or any of MissionInsite’s material to be helpful to a church, there needs to be something present. What needs to be present is a desire within the congregation to grow. Now that may sound very strange to you, “Doesn’t every church want to grow?” you may ask. Indeed! I have not yet met a church that didn’t SAY it wanted to grow. I have not met with an SPRC team or a Leadership Council that didn’t, in some way, tell me their desire to reach more young people and young families. And I listen to their desires, and at some level, I believe that it’s genuine.
But then we talk about the kinds of things it will take to grow. We talk about things like the MOSAIC groups in their area and what could be done to reach out to them. And hear things like how horrible it was when the outreach team suggested moving the worship time of the Traditional service back a half hour in order to offer a different style that might reach some new people. And in doing so, how that disrupted and upset so many of the long-time members.
You see, the truth is, growth is hard. It’s harder than it’s ever been. And it won’t happen if we just wish for it. It won’t even happen if we just pray for it ─ though I would certainly suggest prayer! God often helps us see a plan, a way to move towards the changes that will ultimately help us to experience growth. But, growth is hard. Growth takes a laser focus and it takes a constant willingness to do EVERYTHING we can, trying lots of things ─ things that are not about those who are here now, but about those who aren’t here yet ─ if it is to be accomplished.
And the truth is, the hard truth is, the really, hard truth is that in many of our churches, sadly we just don’t have the desire to work that hard.