How a society meeting turned into an outreach

How many of us are thrilled at the thought of attending a society meeting? We know they are necessary to the vitality of the church, but participating in votes and quorums doesn’t get everyone’s blood pumping. At North Grenville Community Church, however, they speak excitedly about their society meeting. Maybe that’s because they do it a little differently than most churches.

To start with, they hold the meeting as a worship service, on a Sunday morning. Pastor Dan Massey says, “It’s a celebration service of what God has done and what he is calling us to do. It is not overly ‘meeting-ized’ as we do a lot of the legwork beforehand. People enjoy it and it gets them engaged. It doesn’t take away from the worship service.”

They then follow up the society meeting by hosting a celebratory BBQ, usually at the home of someone from the congregation.

At their last meeting, on June 10th, they considered opening the BBQ portion up to the community and using this as an opportunity to reach out. Their church vision is to “live and love like Jesus.” They would be able to practice this by offering the BBQ to their neighbours following the meeting.

Not everyone thought it was a good idea. “One of the biggest doubters,” Pastor Dan laughs, “was my own wife.” Still the congregation moved forward and created invitations to the BBQ, which they hand-delivered to 60 houses. They could not anticipate how well they would be received. Pastor Dan prayed, “Lord, is this what you would have us do?” and “How am I going to explain this when no one comes?”

It turns out there was no need to be anxious. They had a fantastic response.  At least 40 people came out. “Some [people] sat by tents, some by the church, a few people were playing their guitars, some would sit and mingle. Everyone that came was so pleased. Although it forced everyone to become part of something they were going to anyway, the element seemed natural.”

Photo Credit: Coba Studios Merrickville

Pastor Dan clarified that this was not just a tactic to invite people to church. In fact, he challenged the church not to, unless visitors initiated it. “It was merely us doing the best we could to step outside of our walls. It’s about becoming part of the neighbourhood and hoping it leads to them seeing Jesus. If our vision is to live and love like Jesus, we want people to see us living and loving like Jesus. If they need Jesus, he is here. We want to take away that stigma of the church that it is a ‘come-to’ place. It is a ‘go-to.’ Jesus sent us out. He didn’t say ‘build churches and invite people to come,’ he said, ‘go out into the world.’”

The following week, the church debriefed together and found that they were energized by the response from the community. They were inspired by the Apostle Paul’s words in Galatians 6:9-10, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up…”

In this way, they would like to consider more opportunities to reach out to those in their neighbourhood. One thing’s for sure, this will become a regular part of their already joyful society meetings.

Update: North Grenville Community Church is organizing a ribfest on their front lawn on September 30th. They are inviting all their neighbours, including those who recently moved into the newly constructed subdivision across the street. They are looking forward to seeing how God will move in their community.