We are about to launch a very interesting project in the life of the parish. We’re going to complete the balcony we left unfinished when we opened our new church last year. Because of the success of our Vision Campaign we were able to complete some of the more costly items involved in a balcony in the original construction, including an elevator and bathrooms. Now, all that is left to do is woodwork, railings, carpeting, and pews (by far the costliest piece).
When complete this space will afford an additional 500 seats, bringing our total capacity to 1500. How, one might well ask, in the current climate of crisis in the larger Church, with people walking away as never before, how can we fill those seats? Many churches are quietly reducing their seating capacity.
Well, all this month we’ve been reflecting on that in our current message series “Hooked: Followers Fish.” (You can watch the whole series on our web site: www.churchnativity.com.) Jesus promised to make his friends and followers fishers of men. Bringing others into a loving relationship with the living Lord is basic to what disciples do. And what was true for the first followers is true for us.
So, all this month we’ve been challenging parishioners to invest in their unchurched friends, and at some point, invite them to join us for our upcoming Lenten series (more on that to come).
Specifically, we challenged everyone to name one person, just one person, to make that investment and subsequent invitation.
To make this commitment more deliberate, and more fun, we’re incentivizing it this weekend, doing something we’ve never done before.
Following all weekend Masses this weekend we’re inviting everyone to visit the balcony. Our host ministers will direct them there and other safety precautions will be in place as well. Since this is the very first time its been open for view, that in itself is worth the trip.
But there’s more: on the unfinished floor, beneath what will be the balcony seats, we’re inviting parishioners to write the name of the unchurched person they’re inviting to fill that seat. Of course, the floor will eventually be carpeted, but those names will be a permanent part of the space.
Together, the parishioners and parish staff have to see themselves as fishing partners, and in that partnership we really can fill those seats.