Many churches celebrated the start of a new program year yesterday with Rally Day. Or “Kick Off Sunday.” Or “Welcome Back Sunday.” For anyone reading this who is not a Church Person, Rally Day is when:
- New Christian Education Classes start for the fall.
- Weekly Worship returns to the fall/winter worship schedule.
- The choir returns.
All good stuff, friends, except that those who are not Church People don’t really care. Even some church people don’t really care.
If we hope to be a 21st Century Church, let’s re-think Rally Day for 2014. It’s never too soon.
If we take seriously our commission to make disciples of all nations, we can’t be congregation-centric. A new kind of Rally Day seems to be called for.
Here are some ideas from churches with a missional culture that I’ve known and loved :
- Rally Day as a community appreciation for First Responders (fire fighters, police officers, EMT volunteers.) This works well in terms of a positive 9-11 remembrance. Invite all the local First Responders to a party in their honor in a grocery store parking lot or a very public local park. Get local businesses to donate things (moon bounce? popcorn machine? smoothies?) and approach others to donate gift cards to give to those who protect your community – who are probably either volunteers or paid very little. One church I know gives $100 grocery store gift cards to each of their local First Responders.
- Rally Day as a community service event: “Jesus Has Left the Building” Day with 3-5 pre-planned opportunities for serving the community. After gathering at the church building, individual teams then choose one project and then leave to go serve as a small team by weeding a community garden, picking up trash on the highway, visiting a nursing home, serving dinner in a shelter, making sandwiches for volunteer fire fighters. Something for everyone.
- Rally Day as a massive community Love Bomb. Where do people gather on Sunday mornings who are not church people in your town? Go there. Take popcicles or coffee or water bottles or whatever. Be careful with food that not’s pre-packaged. (Would you take a hotdog from a random stranger in a park?)
The point of all this is basically to get out into the community. See who’s out there. Who are they and what do they need?
The point is not to recruit new members or market your church or guilt people who are not sitting in pews at 11 am on Sunday mornings. Unlike the image posted above, the point is not to achieve “a record attendance.”
Imagine a different kind of Rally Day this time next year. Yes, it might be double the work to do both a traditional event and a missional event. But the future church focuses on two communities:
- The people who indeed sit in the pews on Sunday mornings.
- The people who are out in the world living their lives.
Both are broken in their own way. Both are sinners and saints. Both need community. Both deserve to be loved unconditionally.