So what do we expect to happen on September 18?
I can tell you what I hope from what happened at a friend’s church. Faith Highland relaunched as a joint expression by a Highland CRC and Faith RCA in 2011. At that time it was a church of 150 original worshipers from Highland CRC and 40 additions from Faith RCA. They launched much like we are: They distributed fliers on Labor Day weekend, sent a mailing to moms 25-40 the next week, then sent a mailing to those new to the community just before the launch. They also worked social media and used word of mouth strongly.
Two Sundays after Labor Day they relaunched. The 190 attendees turned to nearly 700 people in one Sunday over 2 services. Many were well-wishers from Faith, and things that morning were too crowded. Also, they relaunched with 2 morning services which spread the numbers out some. The Sunday after relaunch, their “fall back” number was still an incredible 350. That means in 2 Sundays' time, they went from 190 to 350. This spring, they worshiped with roughly 500. Targeted marketing, signage, word of mouth, and Faith well-wishers were essential to this quick growth spurt.
Is that what I expect at Pathway? No, for a number of reasons. First, we have one service. Second, we don’t have the Faith engine to bring well-wishers. And third, we are still in a school which hampers us somewhat. However, I am hoping for a great spurt. I don’t know if we’ll have 200, 250, 300, or 350 that day, but I suspect the Lord will use our efforts to bring some new friends who maybe are returning to faith or will be converts to Christ.
Regardless, this has been worth it. In 21 months you have done 4-5 years worth of work. Small churches don’t usually move fast, but look at what you’ve done and how God blessed it. We have 2 new staff, Stephanie and Paul. Terri is on fire with service project opportunities that will be a big part of the hook for getting relaunch families to return. Hopefully guests will return week 2 to bring back food boxes for poor kids and to bring clothing. Also, the system has been tweaked. We are adding greeters to greet at 2 stations. Soon we’ll be doing hospitality with 2 families at a time. Our logo has been refreshed. We did a targeted marketing campaign. The signs in your yard have St. John residents knowing of a church called “Pathway.” The radio waves and a bill board have been echoing “Pathway.” We have the best small church website around. Now we’ve added Sunday school and expanded family night. The Pathway Kids program has a new leader which will result in increased support and new energy. Meanwhile, behind the scenes a building project plan is beginning to grow. Attendance and giving are way up. There were over 160 people in church Sunday of which only 6 were new guests. Child safety training and greeter training are complete. New signs mark our classrooms. Yes, it’s been worth it. And our newcomers are taking on positions. Just look at the teacher roster for Sunday school!
Meanwhile the fields are ripe. Suncrest Church is about the best around at getting unchurched inside their doors. A few weeks ago they had 300 at a Thursday night service. Pastor Greg has been asking people to switch from the 2nd Sunday morning service to the earlier service on Sunday morning or Thursday night to create auditorium room for new people who tend to come to the 2nd service. Meanwhile over the course of 2 Sundays in August they welcomed 29 newcomer families who visited. So, I’m convinced when the word of mouth about Pathway is great, and we find our stride with marketing and programs, that we too will attract many who are looking for a church home.
So, I’m excited for this weekend. I suspect 200, but wouldn’t be shocked at over 250 or even 300. I’ve invited a host of well-wishers, and you’ve done much inviting too. We’ll see. But regardless, this is the life of faith! We work for our Lord. We dream, sweat, and hope. Then we wait to see what He’ll do. So, no matter what, God has us exactly where He want us. We’ve given our all. He knows. May He now be glorified in us. May His Spirit do incredibly more than we could ever ask or imagine! O Lord, may Pathway please participate in this ripe harvest. And to you belongs the glory forever and ever. Amen.