This upcoming Sunday is going to be a pretty big & important day at the church I’m serving as a worship leader–it’s the grand opening day at our Vernon Hills location. We moved into the Sullivan Community Center (SCC) a few months back and had our first service there on Sunday, 1/24. Since then we’ve mailed out tens of thousands of invitation mailers to homes within a 5-mile radius of the church and I’m told that we should expect around 100 – 200 visitors this Sunday. We normally have about 50-60 adults at our Sunday service so 100+ visitors would be a huge deal for us. We, as a congregation, have also been encouraged in these last few weeks to invite others to the grand opening and I am certainly hopeful that there will be many visitors present at church on Sunday as a result of personal invitations from our congregants.
Some may argue that our “grand opening” this Sunday may not qualify as one since prior to our move to SCC, we had been meeting in Palatine for about 3 years. As for me, I really don't care. :) Grand opening or not, I’m going to treat it as such while hoping and expecting that we will have a ton of visitors to our church on Sunday morning. And while it would certainly be nice to have Christian visitors there who are looking to change churches for all sorts of various reasons, what I would really love to see is to have a lot of people there who are not Christians. People who are unchurched. People who don’t have a church home. People who have been away from the whole “church scene” for a long time but have decided to give church, Jesus, and Christians one more try. Honestly, I’d rather have 10 unchurched people/non-Christians visit us than 100 people who are Christians.
And from my point of view as a worship leader–it would be kinda cool to have 100+ Christian visitors come check us out this Sunday and see a bigger group of people be engaged in worship. It would be kinda cool to have a bunch of new people who are already at least sort of familiar with the songs we typically sing at church and be able to sing them with us. It would be great if some of these Christian visitors are skilled musicians who are already familiar with the songs we normally sing on Sunday mornings and are wanting to help in the worship ministry.
BUT it would be even better if we have visitors join us this Sunday who have not been to church in a long time… perhaps never. People who think that the songs we sing are strange. People who can’t help but to feel uneasy and awkward during Christian worship just because they’re so unfamiliar with it. People who don’t know how to pray.
Up until a few years ago, I used to be a member of a church where many (most?) of the congregants had “immigrated” from other churches. And when I think back on those days, all I can say is that while it was nice to have a lot of additional people show up at church on Sunday mornings, at the same time, it felt a little bit pointless. It felt pointless because even though the church had a sudden significant jump in numbers, there was absolutely no net increase in the number of Christians. All of these newcomers had already heard the gospel and they were already members of an existing community of Christians.
So with all this said, I am looking forward to this Sunday. And I will be praying that people who are unfamiliar with Jesus and His church will come join us this Sunday. And if that’s the case, this Sunday might be my first Sunday as a worship leader where I don’t mind people who simply look lost during worship. :)