Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pick-A-Church, Any Church

Pick a Church, Any Church

Most churches have outreach programs to draw potential new members into their own doors. In Collinsville, Ill., pastors are taking a big-picture approach and telling town residents it doesn't matter where they go to church-just go.

As part of an Easter outreach program dubbed "Pick a Church, Any Church," all but three congregations in the St. Louis suburb of 25,000 people hung fliers on doors to get residents in church on Easter Sunday.

"We have come to believe that no one single aspect of the ‘church' will be able to serve the total needs of a community," said David Amsden, pastor of 200-member SonLife Church and organizer of the campaign. "Therefore, it takes multiple churches with different worship expressions and various preaching styles to appeal to a vast array of individuals as well as display who God is."

Since Feb. 23, the churches of Collinsville have taken out full-page ads in the newspaper, made personal phone calls and sent out mailers to homes. Collinsville Mayor John Miller even got involved, sending an automated phone call to some 11,000 residents, inviting them to go to church on Easter Sunday.

Amsden said the idea for the campaign originated as a way to increase attendance at SonLife, which he began leading two years ago when his father retired as pastor. But he soon realized that a random invitation to attend his charismatic church would resonate with only a limited number of people. "Rather than my small congregation getting excited about inviting people, we have every church," he said. "It's amazing every time I talk to somebody how excited they are. ... I actually think we're closer to portraying who God is to our community doing it this way." [, 4/6/09]

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