You know the old saying, "When opportunity knocks, open the door." It's often after the opportunity has passed by that we realize it and think, "Oops."
Missed opportunities abound and we often read the stories of these and shake our heads thinking of what could have been.
Last Sunday evening, we once again hosted a concert for Ridgeview High School's Band. The band director, Arnaldo Colon, is an active member here at First and serves in our worship ministry. His predecessor as Band Director, David McGuffin, is also a member here at First and prior to his retirement from the school, we hosted numerous Christmas concerts for the band.
We have been intentional in allowing certain groups in our schools and community to use our facilities at times. We continue to open the doors for these organizations when we can. However, over the years we have declared this to be a "missional expression."
MAYBE IT'S NOT MISSIONAL
When I arrived Sunday evening, I noticed that other than a few parents of band members who also happen to be members of First, there were only a handful of church members or attenders in the building. The concert was good. The music was presented well and Christmas carols and traditional songs were perfoemed for the audience. Carols that we would sing together on a Sunday morning during worship as well as some fun songs like "Hot Chocolate" from The Polar Express and the theme from "A Charlie Brown Christmas" were also part of the program.
In other words. . .the church, for this evening, was simply a venue. The people were not here. Oh, there was a good crowd from the school. Parents, grandparents and friends came to experirence the concert. They were greatly appreciative to me for the use of our facility. Shelvin Lamb, our Worship Pastor was a gracious host for the band and others.
All in all, it was a good concert and a fine event.
It just wasn't missional. It was just an event.
It wasn't missional in that it took place in the church's facility and the church wasn't present. I'm not saying we should have been here, preaching between songs or handing out tracts. I'm not even trying to make people feel guilty for not attending. In fact, for many who are part of the church at Fist, this was not viewed as something they were necessarily supposed to attend.
HOW CAN IT BE MISSIONAL?
As I sat in the foyer before, during and after the concert (I was the lone usher and security on duty - I'm sure they all felt safe) I began thinking about what could've been done.
Here are some ideas that I penned during the hour:
- Encourage small groups to move their annual Christmas party to Sunday evening, following the concert. Have the groups meet at church to attend the concert together and then go to their party following.
- Have a group within the church (small groups again?) to bring gifts for the young men and young ladies in the band. There were about 70 students on the stage. While some have church homes, based on current trends, I'd say that most do not. Have a gift for each one with their name on it waiting for them. It doesn't have to be big, but needs to be significant.
- Have hot chocolate available for parents and others in the foyer. This, of course, would bother some who never want to see drinks allowed in the "Worship Center." However, since there were no church members here Sunday evening, we won't tell them that many brought their Starbucks into the building with them. We have tile floors - we can mop spills. We have dark carpet - stains will look like modern designs. It's not that big of a deal.
- Greeters could be at each door welcoming people to the event. These don't have to be men who serve on the usher team. It could be teenagers, moms and dads and families. There's something about being welcomed upon entrance to a venue that makes one feel more comfortable. There should be a real excitement that hundreds of unchurched people (I know, some of the crowd are active in other churches and we desire they remain active, but not all are. . . and those need a good experience with the church) would enter into our facility willingly.
- We need a photographer here. As people were leaving, numerous families would pose in front of the Christmas tree (the Chrismon Tree) in the front foyer for a family photo. We should be taking pics there and throughout the concert. Just as we did with the elementary school Christmas party last year, we take the pics, give the folks a business card with our church website on it and information on where to find their pictures. They can then go to our site and click the link to find their pictures. Who knows? They may just look at some other items on the website as well.
- Serve the guests. This is key every time we open the doors, whether it be for a special event or on Sunday for our regularly scheduled worship services. They are guests - not visitors. They are honored guests and should be treated as such.
- Pray. Yes, the church should be praying that this first contact event would be missional in that, even though the event is in our building, the people attending would experience the church (the people) and the One we serve through our love for them.
- Etc. There's more, but you get the picture.
God has blessed us with a facility that can house such events. Not every church has this privilege. We must be strategic and intentional. What church wouldn't love to have an event where hundreds of lost people plan and schedule to attend?
This year. . .well, that's a missed opportunity.
I pray we will not miss the next one.