“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill... Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
— Matthew 5:14-16 MSG
A few weeks ago on Sunday morning about 10:40 AM someone left a message on our church office answering machine. We listened to the message the next day. Here’s the gist of what the unidentified caller said in a decidedly perturbed tone:
“Hello. Well, the electronic sign says church starts at 10:30 AM and I am here at Price Hall, but I knocked on the door and don’t see any church service. I’m in Cape May for vacation, and I decided to attend, but unfortunately, you’re not here. Maybe you should fix your sign. Goodbye.
— Unidentified Caller
I am sure you think like I did that that was a strange message. Someone shows up for worship at 10:30 AM on Sunday and can’t find any activity? Why didn’t the caller notice the cars and people just ahead on Seashore Road at the red brick building, our worship center? We were there. Every week we have visitors and guests who seem to find us O.K. While it's easy to be bewildered and even critical of the caller’s ignorance, let’s try to understand better what was going on that the caller couldn’t find us. Here are a few observations (I’m, sure you’ll think of others, too.)
First of all, we have multiple buildings. This caller was not as familiar with our area as most of us are. He simply noticed the electronic digital sign at the corner of Academy and Seashore Roads that says, “Energizing worship 10:30 am Sundays”. Price Hall is right there, though. Wasn’t it understandable for the caller to think Price Hall was the place of worship? Many churches worship in similarly looking “school or hall” low profile buildings. The nearness of the sign he noticed to the Price Hall was an obvious connection and mistake to make.
Second, we have a huge campus. We enjoy a huge property that includes a cemetery field office, mausoleum, manse, Price Hall, and of course, our red brick worship center. It 's hard to see the red brick building standing at the corner or in the parking lot of Price Hall. Our worship center takes up less than 1% of our total area and sits near the north corner. It is a distance of three football fields away from Price Hall! I wonder how many others have not made the connection that the cemetery, Price Hall, and the red brick building are all Cold Spring Church?
Third, we have a unique look. We know our red brick building is a place of worship, a church building, and has been for three centuries. It may not seem like a “church” to some who may be used to stone or granite walls and topped by a steeple and cross. Most of us attending on Sunday naturally enter our campus and park close to that building. But no matter how long we have been here, to a person unfamiliar with our history or location, it can be hard to notice.
While it’s disappointing to have missed this opportunity to meet the caller and those who may have been with him, we can see this experience as a messaging opportunity. How can we do a better job at being visible?
Maybe your church offers a lot to the community, but you, like us, are responsible for making it visible! We have plans to improve our on-campus messaging. Sure, those who have been to our church, for example, know where to go, but because we have multiple buildings, a huge campus, and a unique look, we have allocated initial funding to improve our signs for others to find where to go.
We will enhance our online messaging, too. Our website, www.coldspringchurch.com will re-launched in August, designed to be even more useful. Worship, events, and news about our session, deacons, and the many teams and groups who serve will be easy to notice. You can sign-up and even purchase tickets or donate online if you wish. Listen to sermons and access the Brickette. Cemetery services will also be featured. For the first time, we will accept major credit cards.
As the transformation pastor, one part of my role is to equip the leadership team and the worshipping community to be more visible, accessible, and achieve even greater impact in the name of Jesus Christ. We have a fantastic opportunity to make God’s love known.
How will you add your light and point the way so that next time someone is looking for hope, they will easily find it.