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We Are Moving!

I have exciting news to share to start our new year on a happy note: we have confirmed that March 1 is the "Golden Date" for our first worship service in our new facility! All of our office equipment, as well as other items, will be moved the previous week, February 24-28. American Construction has asked that we not use or visit the building the week of February 17-21 as they complete the final punch list.

We wish we had been able to move sooner but this seem to be the Lord's perfect timing. I like the old line that says, "God's timing is always perfect but He sure seems to miss a lot of opportunities to be early." While we wish He had been "early" we give thanks that He has provided so abundantly for us. Construction got off to a very slow start last winter because of heavy rainfall. And now on the back end we have again received a lot of rain. But these years of "wilderness wandering" will soon be behind us and we will at last have a place to call home!

I did a quick little survey of mileage distances and was encouraged to see that we aren't moving very far. Here are a few examples:

From Julia Green - 12.65 miles
From Brentwood Middle School - 10:35 miles
From Richland Country Club - 11.13 miles
From The Factory in Franklin - 13.38 miles
From Nipper's Corner - 17.13 miles
From Oak Hill (First Presbyterian) - 14.6 miles
From Hillwood Country Club - 10.3 miles
From Kroger (Harding Pike) - 9.9 miles
From Leiper's Fork Rec Center - 13.1 miles
From I-65 and Peytonsville Road - 21.8 miles

I grew up in Oak Hill. I remember how far it seemed to the Southwestern Bible Company out near Moores Lane. Now I live in east Brentwood very near Moores Lane and think nothing of it. As we become more familiar with our new facility I believe the distances will get shorter and shorter.

Let me ask one favor of you: please be thinking of one person, couple, or family that you would like to invite to our new church. If you can think of more, all the better. We are not interested in "stealing sheep" but if you know of someone looking for a church home or who needs a church home, please consider inviting them to be a part of these exciting days ahead.

Posted by Jim Bachmann

Becoming A Welcoming Church - Part 7

I've been an ordained pastor for 39 years and 6 months. That doesn't make me an expert on anything. It does mean I'm getting older and I have gained some experience. And in those 39+ years I have heard some oft-repeated complaints. One that affects our ability to be a welcoming church is this:

"We need more ushers."

I'm not sure I do my job very well so who am I to tell others how to do theirs? But...I will make a few observations. First, in most churches the ushers don't really usher. Instead they typically talk to each other like fraternity brothers, hand everyone a bulletin, and collect the offering during the service. How many ushers does that take? Truthfully, a church can have a fine service without them. Bulletins can easily be placed on a chair or table so each worshiper may pick one up as they come in. And offering plates can be placed at each door so people may make a contribution as they enter or leave. Problem solved! Suddenly no ushers are needed!

Well, not so fast. Ushers who will warmly welcome worshipers, hand them a bulletin, engage them in a brief conversation, and escort them to their seats are absolutely invaluable. This is a hallmark of a welcoming church! Like every other area of ministry, ushers can do the bare minimum or go "above and beyond" in welcoming people to the church. I realize that our aisles are tight right now and it's not an easy thing to escort people to their seats. But this will soon change and we should help everyone, especially the visitor, feel welcomed, loved, and respected, by going above and beyond the bare minimum.

Posted by Jim Bachmann

Becoming A Welcoming Church - Part 6

As we continue to think about becoming a welcoming church, I must offer a word of caution. Occasionally visitors are overwhelmed if they receive too much attention! Listen to Justin: "I came away worn out from the visit to the church. The people were all over us. My wife and I and our two kids were one of very few families there, and they seemed desperate to get us. We left asking ourselves, 'Who are these people?' We had seen some of them in town, and they sure weren't friendly there. But they put on a good show when we visited." (Becoming a Welcoming Church, p. 30)

About one in seven church visitors said something similar when surveyed. Is it possible to be too friendly?

I believe there is no substitute for authenticity. When visitors feel like they are a "means to an end" they will respond unfavorably. But when they feel genuinely welcomed and respected they are extremely appreciative. Some people prefer to visit quietly and have little interaction. Others are more open to engagement with the membership. We have to develop an instinct and know where the lines need to be drawn. It is not always easy but if our hearts are in the right place and we want to love our neighbor as ourselves, we will often hit the mark.

And, by the way, don't jump to conclusions based on a visitor's response (or lack thereof). In 1991 when I was just starting my previous church, I made a follow-up phone call to a woman who had visited the previous Sunday. She was very abrupt. She stated emphatically that "she was not interested in our church." She made me feel a little better when she said her son-in-law might be interested. A few years later she joined our church! Her husband eventually became an elder. Her son-in-law eventually became an elder as well.

You never know!

Posted by Jim Bachmann