Last weekend a few of us got out there. It was Moorestown Day, a festival on Main Street in Moorestown, and we thought it to be a great opportunity to tell people about Circle of Hope. It was a beautiful day and rain only threatened without delivering. Maybe housands of people showed up and we were there as a conspicuous presence. we wanted to be known.
The goals were:
1) for people to know that a church called Circle of Hope exists
2) that they know we have a cell in Moorestown
3) make a friend if we can- we’re looking for people who are interested not in forcing our interests on someone
4) we want to do this awkward thing to loosen us up- if I can’t hand out a flyer can I invite a friend to the cell?
I invented a new flyer for the event. I kind of like it.
WE’VE STOPPED FAKING IT
You don’t have to get it all together before you can be a part of our church. You don’t even have to be a Christian. We are an opportunity to explore. Expect real people, really trying and really failing, but doing so together and with God. That’s the point– we’ve stopped pretending we can get by on our own.
Giving out this flyer requires me to put my community on the line. I trust them to be the sort of people I describe them to be in this short statement. I trust God to make us the safe place we claim to be because I love God and I have seen God at work among us. Telling that story, even in a flyer, helps me believe it again too. It’s audacious, but it’s inadequate too.
A friend pointed out the weakness of our strategy from his own perspective:
“Flyer advertising–for churches, for home repairs, for comedy shows–I just don’t like it. If I get a flyer from someone, you can be sure I’ll never do business with them. But there’s lots of advertising that does work for me (man, I love those free samples from Panda Express they give out at the mall.)
Couple that with the connection that I have with the kinds of churches that advertise that way and the whole thing leaves me a little freaked out. I’m sure a church could read encouraging messages of God’s love by using a bullhorn on a street corner, but I suspect most people wouldn’t receive the message that way, regardless of the words being said. Flyers aren’t that, but they are close for me.”
I think my friend is pushing us in the right direction. Flyers are flimsy. Flyers could turn some people off. Flyers are an easy stop gap- a provisional measure- a cheap response to our desire to get out there- the best we can do with the little time we have yet invested- We need to get more creative. The message is real, the urgency is real, our community is real, but let’s get real about our story telling to those who are yet to know us.
Of course our most creative and effective avenues into our community are the personal relationships we have already and the open chairs we hold for them in our cells and Public Meetings. These extra measures I am imagining are just that, extra. There are more people out there that we don’t yet know. i want to meet them. Let’s pray and dream about how to do it well.