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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Friday, December 16, 2011


Reports are coming in of congregations experiencing crowds that they have not seen for quite some time. Grand Valley had 108 people attend an ordination service recently instead of the usual 35. Hamilton had a very nice response to their mid-week Blue Christmas service. Brydges Street had 75 guests for a Community Dinner, not counting the 40+ members who served. LaSalle had a completely full house (130+) for their annual Christmas choir and turkey dinner, including people they had never seen before. Ottawa had over 100 people at two locations this past Sunday.

I experienced something of this phenomenon myself this past week when I attended church in Cambridge. I walked in just as the service was starting, and the room was completely full. Several people pointed to an obscure empty chair, one of only two vacant seats in the whole place! For a moment it was almost like Luke’s version of the Christmas story in which Joseph and Mary go to Bethlehem and seek a place to stay at the local inn, only to be told the rooms are all full.

What is happening here? Has there been a sudden resurgence of interest in religion? Is Christmas provoking some nostalgic desire in people to re-experience church? I don’t think so. Closer investigation reveals that at least three other things are going on.

First, in every case the congregations experiencing these increases in attendance did not follow their normal pattern of just assuming everyone knows they are welcome. Instead, they went out of their way to invite people. The folks at Grand Valley telephoned people, sent email invitations, and even stopped people on the street to invite them to come. Brydges Street folks went door to door distributing 850 invitations. LaSalle is a country church so they advertised through a variety of means including the township newsletter.

Second, those inviting have a positive attitude and an excitement about what is happening. "Something is happening here" is conveyed in their faces and voices when they make the invitation. “Something is happening and you will want to be part of it.”

Third, in several cases, the service or activity was not about the congregation itself but was directly tied to doing something for somebody else. Brydges Street wanted to (and did) do something for the East London community where the church is located; the people they feel called to serve. Hamilton’s Blue Christmas was for the benefit of people in the community whose Christmas will be sadder because of the loss of a loved one. LaSalle raised $700.00 for a local high school breakfast program. Barrie held a Purple Christmas service to raise funds and provide support for women and children in the community who are experiencing domestic violence.
Earlier we heard from Brydges Street with their post Dinner. This week we have been hearing from some other congregations that have reached out to their community.

Full houses in response to inviting, being positive, and serving others; is it possible that being the presence of Christ in our communities and actually fulfilling our mission is catching on?


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