Hello, and Happy Easter season! I hope you’re able to take a break from the hectic nature of lent and enjoy celebrating the risen savior. With that extra time, if you’re thinking about evangelism and outreach, here are some things to think about.
Idea worth considering: People like mainline protestants more than Evangelicals
Here’s a link to the PEW research article (and full report if you want it) that I’m pulling this information from. While living our faith isn’t a popularity contest (but if it were, congrats, we win) I think this information is helpful for several reasons.
First, it is good to know that people outside the church recognize a difference between evangelicals and us mainliners. In my mind, this means our mainline-ness isn’t something to hide or gloss over even in our evangelical-heavy South, but especially as we are meeting new people, may be something to embrace. This is across partisan lines – in the data, Republicans favor mainliners, too. It is common in our state to assume there is an evangelical favoritism, but that may only exist among evangelicals and not the unchurched we are trying to reach.
Second, this raises the question: do we want to copy the megachurch or evangelicals down the street? Their programs may be larger or appear attractive, but if we are genuinely trying to connect with our communities and make new disciples (and not just poach from the Baptists), we may do well to be our authentic selves rather than to copy the evangelicals.
Finally, for our evangelism: why do we think this is true? I bet we all have our guesses, and the data doesn’t say anything about why this is. But as it seems both believers and non-believers can recognize a difference, this may give us a sense of where our grace-filled Gospel, sacramental theology, and other Lutheran identifiers are an advantage for us in this post-pandemic world. We don’t need to hide who we are or pretend we are something we are not to reach new people.
Resource worth a look – Lutheran Services of the Carolina’s Trinity Recovery Center
There are roughly half a million people in South Carolina living in long-term recovery from some form of addiction (about 10% of the state’s population). Unfortunately, churches have often been places of shame and guilt for many people and it’s difficult to walk in the door or share that part of themselves with the pastor. The words we use around addiction and the attitudes we hold matter, and can be the difference in someone hearing the Gospel as something that is welcoming and inviting, or something that is shame and guilt inducing.
Lutheran Services of the Carolinas’ Trinity Recovery center is looking to partner with congregations to become a more welcoming place for people in long-term recovery, and they want to do this at zero cost to the congregation. Seriously, it’s free and it is good. While they primarily focus on Lexington, Richland, Newberry, and Greenwood counties, they can help any congregation who wants to take steps to become “recovery-friendly” congregations. They work in genuine partnership with you to understand your specific context and how your faith community can be a true community for these neighbors of ours. If you’re interested in this with your congregation, you can reach out to myself and I’ll make the connection, or directly to LSC by contacting Richard (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Rachel (email@example.com).
Thanks for Reading
If you want to have a conversation about maintaining our mainline identity in evangelism, ministry possibilities with people in recovery, or anything else evangelism and outreach oriented, reply to this email or give me a call! I’m never too busy for a good conversation.
If you know someone who would like to receive this, please forward it to them. If someone has forwarded this to you and you’re interested in more please email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to be added to the This Month in Mission” newsletter list.