I just received a flyer in the mail, advertising a conference to help churches retain their visitors. The conference is called, “Sticky Church”, and promises to help churches “close the back door”.

Stickiness: what an interesting concept! (I first learned about it in the book, The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell.) How sticky is your church? What do you do to promote stickiness to your visitors? Once upon a time, when I was a pastor, Bring-a-Friend Sundays were very popular. I got pretty good at promoting this idea and getting the church to draw a big crowd. Sometimes, we would almost double our worship attendance for that Sunday! The church people would get excited to see such a crowd! But the following Sunday, maybe a few would come back. Within a few Sunday’s, no one was returning. Though we had an exciting day, it was depressing that we didn’t find anyone who really wanted to be a part of us.

Bring a Friend Sunday is definitely one of those “attractional” church activities. Many today are trying to discard the attractional model for evangelism by becoming missional — going out to where the unchurched are, building relationships and doing ministry.

As you engage your community, how sticky are you in moving people into your fellowship? What kinds of things are you doing?

At my insight session at Annual Conference (Engaging Our Communities with Jesus), I named some of the creative ways that congregations are using to engage their communities. Some of these creative ideas include:

♦ Community Movie Nights: Showing recently run movies that display family or Christian values and inviting the neighborhood.

♦ Websites: This is this is how people shop these days, especially younger generations. A church can put for more information onto their webpage about their church than they can a yellow pages ad. Two samples include:
> www.myglendalechurch.org: good example of blogging, telling challenging or inspiring life-stories.
> www.creeksideconnected.com: example of well laid-out site with streaming video and audio of sermons.

♦ New Church Plant Mentality: Viewing the neighborhood as if the church is a new church plant. Waynesboro congregation in Shennandoah district sent two members to the new church planting conference.

♦ Community Gardens: At least two congregations, Cincinnati and Virginia Beach, are opening their property to neighbors to plant gardens. Working together on your individual gardens is a great way to building relationships!

♦ Skateboard Park: Virginia Beach has created a safe place for neighborhood kids to skate.

♦ Tractor Show and Community Dinner: This wouldn’t work in many communities, but it works for the East Chippewa congregation!

♦ Parent’s Night Out: Fridays, 6-9pm: Waynesboro, VA.

♦ Classes for the Community: Computer, Conflict resolution, job counseling, ESL — Harrisburg First

♦ DVD Handout: East Chippewa has a professionally produced DVD to introduce their congregation to their community.

For those of you who might be interested, the insight session was video taped and will be available on DVD at no charge. On the DVD, you’ll hear other creative ideas and the stories of four congregations who are engaging their communities in vital ways and growing as a result. Just let me know. My contact info is on the “Contact Us” tab, or respond with a comment to this post.

In case your interested in some books to help your church become more “sticky”, check-out the book list at the Sticky Church website.

May your outreach efforts be blessed and sticky!