Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Earlier this week the secretary and I were talking about the questions I had used in our Stewardship Celebration service a few weeks ago. The questions were:
  1. What makes this church special?
  2. How has coming to Riverview made a difference in the life of you and/or your family?
  3. In what ways in Atikokan better because Riverview has been here?
THe comment was how difficult the questions were to answer. And they are actually. For H the questions pushed her to think about why she still is active in the church. AS a younger person she went because that is how she grew up. But why continue?

AS I was planning the service and the using of the discussion time the image I had was of getting people started giving testimony. I think it is crucial for congregations to encourage the "why are we here?" discussions (both why is the congregation here and why am I as an individual here). Then we are better equipped to tell others. THen we are better prepared to make being a part of the congregation mean something more than a Sunday morning social time (although there is value in that as well). But there is a barrier.

Actually I think there are 2 barriers. One is that many churches have not done well with encouraging those discussions. Many of us have never really taken time to explore "why do I come here?" because we haven't been pushed to do so. The other is that the idea of giving testimonyis foreign and terrifying to many of us, perhaps including many preachers. But it is vital that we learn to climb both of these barriers if we are to move forward. My hope is to have a discussion group in the New Year to deal with the first. But what about the second? How do we reclaim testimony from those televangelists and remember that there are many ways of giving it? How do we start people telling their own story about the church to those who have yet to hear it, to those who are not yet a part of the circle? That I am having a harder time with.


  1. In our congregation, there was at one time a "telling my story" period. People could, given a few weeks' notice and consent of course, take a few minutes and sketch the story of their faith journey and how it was affected by their coming to that congregation. This, during the service.

    This exercise did much the same thing as you've suggested with your discussion idea, Gord, although i think that in a small town like Atikokan, the discussion might fly better than the outright testimony.

  2. As a rule Lutherans aren't given to "testifyin'," but our morning announcements have become a venue for doing so. One morning our pastor was thanking folks in the congregation for their support of one of our ministries, and someone stood up spontaneously and said, "You know, I think we should be thanking you...I think sometimes we forget what a gift you are to this congregation and this community." And that led to a little mini-conversation about where our congregation had been (at the brink of shutting down, not all that many years ago, I'm told) to where we are today...growing to the point of having to embark on a building project to fit us all in.;-)

  3. We also have, off and on, a really neat program called The Bag, where each week someone comes in with a grocery sack (we use the same one -- helpfully titled THE BAG) filled with three things meaningful to them, that they talk about. At the end of the service The Bag is handed off to someone else. We've had some amazing personal stories told around The Bag.

  4. Anonymous3/11/05 13:32

    How are you (church) trying to make a difference?