Tuesday, May 6, 2008

I Don't Believe In Camels Anymore

It was when I was a Worship Pastor at Hillsdale UB Church that I first heard about the "Law Of The Two-Humped Camel." This allegedly unassailable truth declares that church attendance unalterably follows predictable patterns that look like the humps on a bactrian camel.

According to this so-called law, attendance starts out low at the beginning of the year because of the bad weather, then spikes in the spring with Easter, followed by summer doldrums (due to good weather) and another uptick in the fall until the snowbirds leave for Florida at the end of the year.

According to "The Law," to fight the two-humped camel would require changing weather patterns, cancelling all graduations and weddings, assaulting the American vacation, removing Florida from the union, and converting all schools to a year-round system. It simply can't be done.

In my life, I've certainly seen the evidence for "The Law," and I can understand how "The Law" came to be. However, I've recently decided that I no longer believe in camels or their attendant laws. There are tacit assumptions behind "The Law" that I simply don't buy, such as:

  • The only people who will ever attend your church are those who are already attending your church. If snowbirds leave for Florida in December, that should cause a downturn in attendance only for (northern) churches that aren't growing. But a church that is continually attracting new people shouldn't care what month it is.
  • Church is not worth driving through the snow for. We brave the snow for groceries, doctor's appointments, holidays, family, and work! How is it we will go to work every day no matter what the weather is, but then expect people to stay home if there's snow on a Sunday morning? I think if a church isn't worth driving to on a snowy day, that's an indicator of other problems. (Disclaimer: obvious exceptions for exceptionally hazardous weather and the elderly)
  • Church is not attractive enough to compete with summer fun. If camping, golfing, fishing, tennis, croquet, bocci ball, and swimming are more appealing than coming to worship, then what are we doing wrong with our worship services?

I refuse to accept that two families going on vacation at the same time should impact our worship attendance. What about the two new families who will be there that same week? They'll only come if we as a church don't coast for the summer.

As it turns out, we have a number of efforts targeted at reaching our community this summer:

  • SPLASH (Single Parents Letting Another Supply Help): Starting on June 10, and running every Tuesday evening through the summer, this is a chance for single parents to have a break and connect with one another for support.
  • Community Garage Sale: We're inviting all our surrounding neighborhoods to bring their junk to PCC for one massive flea market.
  • Pathway Community Camping: A Saturday-Sunday overnighter at the church. Food. Games. Bonfire. Movie. Outdoor Service. Lots of fun.
  • Lugnuts Baseball Game: Buy two tickets and invite a friend!
  • Soccer Camp: Of course.
  • And more!

I'm excited about all these initiatives! I believe that they will produce fruit, and I've even decided to pray that our attendance will go UP this summer. Maybe if you're daring enough, you will too. So long, camel! I hope you have fun with your new friend, the unicorn!

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