Pathway, what a church! You were at your best Sunday, September 18! And your guests noticed. I am still receiving written “spy reports” from the last several weeks, but this I can say from what spies already reported, “You are warm, inviting, and friendly.” They found the worship experience to be relevant and engaging. One well-wisher noted that he was greeted immediately in the parking lot, with the greeter walking over to welcome him. In addition he received 6-8 greetings just going down the hall. Most had fellowship with someone from Pathway. There was one slight area for improvement registered. We need to keep watching for the new person hanging out by himself in the corner. One guy stood for 5 minutes, he reported to me, before someone talked with him. Watch out for those looking to connect. If you ever see me blow by you in the lobby, and I seemingly ignore your smile, I’m probably heading to that person in the corner.
The gym looked as good as it can look. Between the carpet squares, vibrant balloons, and great chair arrangement, it was inviting. The band was on. Guests liked our music. In addition we were organized. Food boxes were handed out after. Footballs were lateraled to guests on their way out. And some guests stayed to give blood. The Red Cross received 18 blood donations which was huge for the blood mobile in a 2 hour span. We also received much clothing.
And most of all, you went for it! You convinced me, when I signed on, that you wanted to be a harvesting congregation. We executed a plan that was very successful for another area harvesting church. We marketed heavily and gave it our all. Better to try great things for God than to sit and do nothing. We went after it in His name. He was praised in us. Well done! And to Him be the glory for all good things that come from our next step.
Where were the unchurched? I believe there were a few, but where were the masses? We were ready. But most didn’t show. Oh to be sure, we had a large attendance, and with those from Pathway who were gone, our attendance could have been stellar. Oh, there were a few un/under-churched. One gal, who donated a refrigerator for the Starbucks-day-old-food-pantry-delivery asked, “Why do you use the word “Catholic” in that creed thing you did?” I know my family experienced several people that didn’t show, but received our invites and don’t have church homes. We’ll keep working it. I hope you will too. And I hope you did do some personal inviting and praying. I’ve reminded you of that for 21 months, “Invite and pray.” Are you doing it?
Now as I voice this, I need to be very careful. It is the Holy Spirit who turns postcard invites into attendance and eventual conversation. It is the Spirit who wakes a mom up to say, “It’s time my kids learn about Jesus.” It’s the Spirit who takes an addict and shows him, “Leave bondage. Know Christ. Be free.” So, who is Joel Zuidema and who is Pathway to wonder why He didn’t do everything we wanted? He is God. We are not. We work for Him. And He blesses the work of our hands as He intends.
I continue to praise God that you are now a church ready for the Samaritan woman, her ex-husbands, and her new boyfriend. You now are informal, warm, and welcoming. That was not always said of us. Sometimes things take time. I have never been a part of a church that had 35 people come to know Christ and 20% growth in a year. But I’ve witnessed the steady dribble of 1 or 2 at a time coming to Christ or returning to faith. I wondered if Pathway will expand rapidly in this densely populated area. That may come. But for now, great worship services, good programming, service to the community, and first name relationships will carry us forward. And we will continue to watch for quality big events like “Come to the Stable” and Mommy’s Haven Princess Tea. We can already see that we’re growing and have the beginnings of some diversity. May God establish the work of our hands, and use us in the harvest. We are relaunched. And now we await the Spirit’s work in softening hearts and bringing them to Pathway. Please continue the rhythms of inviting and praying for the lost.
And by the way, you have guests coming again this Sunday, but please don’t assume they know me. Just be you and enjoy them. Your greeting may be for them the smile of Jesus Himself.