From the Pastor

February 2018 Newsletter

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” Romans 10:14-15

It had never occurred to me to go and hand out church brochures at Walmart, the one location in Tuolumne County where it’s easy to find a crowd of locals at any time of day. But God put that idea in Deborah Handy’s mind. So she got the permission from Walmart; Leslie Davis updated and ordered more brochures; and Deborah, John Malaspino, and Margie Fooshee went to Walmart and talked with people for several hours.

Bringing good news to Walmart shoppers went amazingly well. About two-thirds of the people going into the store were willing to stop for a moment and make a pleasant comment. Only about one-third of the people kept on going or said that they weren’t interested. One hundred and twenty people took brochures, and some of them said that they would come and check us out. That’s more unchurched folks that have come to any individual church outreach event. Deborah’s, John’s, and Margie’s feet must be beautiful indeed!

Reaching out to people who aren’t yet at our church doesn’t need to be expensive or time-consuming. It just involves figuring out where unchurched people are, going there, and talking to them. Any individual or group can do it.

For the November 2017 Nugget, I wrote about individuals and groups within our church needing to balance looking inward and looking outward. Just as a person gets too self-centered and lonely if they look only at themselves, so a group can get too self-centered as well.

Suppose you are a member of a group within the church that hasn’t gotten any new participants in a long time. The people in your group are getting older, and the numbers are dwindling. The pastor says that she doesn’t have any new participants in your group. What could you do? For a lonely individual, people advise, “If you want a friend, be a friend.” To apply that same advice to your group, you would figure out how your group could be a friend to others. For instance, you could ask yourselves, “Who are the people we know? Who do we want to get to know? What are their needs? Where are they likely to be?” Singers, for example, are likely to attend a vocal concert; and potential book club members are likely to be at the library. How might you talk to them about what your group could offer them?

Just as a group within the church can forget to look outward, so a whole church can forget to look outward. Our church has a lot to offer people in our communities: a new life in Jesus, worship, spiritual food, physical food, a variety of musical styles, ministries to get involved with, social activities, and improved health and longevity (the benefit of regular church attendance to your health has been well established). But do we keep all that wealth to ourselves? Do the people in our community know what we offer?

Where do you regularly go within our community? Are there unchurched people there? How could you let them know about our church? If your experience is like Deborah’s, you might be surprised how many people are interested.

May the peace of Christ be with you,

Pastor Janet

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