Monday Ministerial Musings
By Rev. Mark William Ennis
2022 Blog #49
December 12, 2022
A Shout Out To Second Reformed Church in Hackensack
Every year many churches puzzle over how to get neighbors to come and visit for Christmas services. For a large number of churches, few visitors arrive. Many church have simply given up and stop trying to invite newcomers and simply hold Christmas services for themselves. Recently I saw an example of a church that did not invite people in to hear the Christmas story. Instead, the church took the Christmas story outside the church building and onto the church lawn where everyone could see it and participate in it. This church was the Second Reformed Church in Hackensack. I attended this event.
Outside on the lawn we were treated to a petting zoo. We also watched a Christmas play complete with sheep, goats, a donkey, and a camel. The church lawn was very crowded. Volunteers walked around with nametags, ready to answer any questions a visitor might have.
Other things were going on inside the church. Tours of the sanctuary were being offered. Crafts for children were set out in the church lounge. Of course, refreshments were offered. Hot Chocolate, donuts, coffee and candy canes were freely offered. Dozens of children were there. I don’t know how many of the kids were from the church and how many were visitors. It didn’t seem to matter to the volunteers. Each child was welcomed and not seen as a nuisance, but a person to be embraced and celebrated.
On the way out, I was intrigued to see direction signs in both English and Spanish. This old, wealthy and established white church was making major efforts to do outreach to new and culturally different neighbors.
I witness the church at its best on Saturday. I saw a church that didn’t wait for people to come in. The church went outside to interact with neighbors.
The church celebrated hospitality. All were welcome, including children, who are too often seen as annoyances instead of people to be welcomed.
The church made attracting new folks a higher priority than “soothing” current members. A church internally focused can never grow.
Second Reformed Church of Hackensack did it well. I am glad that I was a part of it. I’m glad that I brought my grandson also. He had the time of his life. I hope and pray that all of our churches will imitate Second Hackensack. This church got it right and I hope that we all will begin to likewise “get it right.”
To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order copy of his book:https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/