Wednesday, April 18, 2007

“Deli Church” – Acting Like a Supermarket Even if we Aren’t One

Jack Haberer (the Editor of Presbyterian Outlook) wrote an article called “Deli Church in a Supermarket World.” Today we are going to look at his idea of acting like a supermarket church.

John Haberlin was the founding pastor of Central Kitsap Presbyterian Church in Bremerton, Washington. He told the new church that they would act like a large church even though they were a NCD (New Church Development in Presbyterian lingo). That church grew and prospered. He said that you have to plan and program for breaking through the 200 barrier or it will never happen.

It is easier for a new church to begin acting like a supermarket church than it is for an existing church. Evergreen is an excellent example of this. Many, but not all, of our church family would love to see the church grow. Some are even willing to sacrifice their wants and desires to see this happen. Yet, there are many long time members of Evergreen who are comfortable with things the way they are. They like the “folksy” feel of a small church. They like to have a “volunteer” greeter corps to welcome people and hand out worship bulletins even though most of these good folks do not know the names and faces of people who have been at the church for less than three years. They like to have “lay leaders” lead the Call to Worship and Pray of Confession, even though many of the “lay leaders” are not good communicators in front of a group of people.

We are in the process of having a “professional” group of greeters to work alongside the regular greeters. This new group of greeters will be small in number and WILL know the names and faces of everyone who regularly comes to Evergreen. Their sole task will be to welcome newcomers and assist them with information about the church and our ministries.

Like most churches, our long-time church attendees feel that our church is warm and friendly. Most newcomers feel that our church is not warm and friendly—that it is hard to get to know the long-time members. Fortunately, we have some very outgoing newer folks who make it their mission to welcome other newcomers.

Is it possible for a smaller church to act like a larger church? Yes it is. However, it is very difficult to actually do it.


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