My dad is very good at thinking up ways to dress up traditional ideas and make them into something new. His latest idea was a church-wide recruiting season, during which the members of the church were encouraged to act as recruiters. There were three types of recruits: Sunday School (about half of lost people who are enrolled into a weekly Bible Study group are saved within a year), church membership, and salvation.
The methodology was taken straight from football recruiting season. He actually called the secretary for the recruiting department at the University of Alabama to get an idea of what it looks like. There were in-home visits (as in, visitation, but way cooler), on-campus visits (open house of the church), and recruiting packets that gave information about the different ministries of the church and included a survey of what the "recruit" could bring to the table so they understood that church membership comes with certain expectations. (And all recruits have plenty to offer.) The tag line was "We consider you a five-star recruit!" Obviously, Jesus can make a five-star recruit out of anyone.
Last night concluded recruiting season with a signing day celebration at church. There was an actual signing ceremony, during which 11 people signed a "letter of intent" to join the church. Some came by a move of letter, and others came by profession of faith. It was a great chance for people to join the church without having to walk the magic carpet in front of everyone, an act that was never recorded in the Bible.
After the signing ceremony, we had a church-wide celebration. Church-themed songs, praise music, and a sermon about the importance of the true Church rounded out recruiting season well. Edwin and I especially enjoyed last night's sermon on church membership. I wish that I had a recording of it, or at least of the section on how laziness is "just plain unfittin'" (Mammy, from Gone With The Wind) for church members. My favorite line was "We should be insulted when people try to beg us to do certain jobs in the church by telling us how easy they are. We should be asking, 'Don't you have anything harder?!'"
It may sound like a publicity stunt, and it might have been just that if it hadn't been done correctly, but the way that this church carried out was not about publicity. It was about speaking the language of real people. It was about recognizing that people matter to God, and that He wants to do great things through us and in us. Not only was it a fun thing to watch, I think that it had a true impact on the lives of the participants.