Plenary Session 1 (continued part 3)
Make the person’s story your primary text for the funeral service.
Invite family members and friends to type a one-page letter of what they would like to say, and the pastor reads that, so they don’t repeat stories, and the funeral isn’t messy.
If the death was a tragedy, deal with the tragedy, even suicide. Do not skirt around the issue. It’s a great way to bring healing to the family, to teach, and to deal with horrific misconceptions people may have. For example, many people have been told that a loved one who commits suicide cannot be redeemed. Adam explains that United Methodists do not believe this.
4. Grief Healing Ministry
Get materials at cor.org
5. And then the #1 way COR reaches people…
Candlelight Christmas Eve Service and the sermon series that follows.
Members take a high quality postcards advertising sermon series to friends, family, coworkers, etc. inviting them to Christmas Eve Candlelight service.
(See my blog “Big Day Sermon Series Ideas“)
Buy radio spots on pop stations that play Christmas music. Get sample radio spots at cor.org this week. They play about 10 different spots- humility, graciousness, hospitality.
Multiple services starting on Dec. 22.:) (I attended a Christmas Eve Candlelight Service in 2001 and because there were so many people, I sat in the lobby and watched the service on closed circuit TV.)
Sing Christmas carols, pass candlelight at the end while you sing “Silent Night”.
The sermon is a struggle for Adam, because how do you keep telling the Christmas story in a way that speaks the language of non-religious language? He gets as creative as he can.
Adam showed the “love of a dog” video. You an download it at cor.org. (He talked to the song writer and asked her for permission to use the video- you can see how conscientious Adam is and committed to acting ethically.)
Effective Follow Up on First-Time Guests (including Christmas Eve)
Ushers pass out pew pads and people can sign and see who is in their row. “Look and see who is sitting next to you.” Do not place them in row. Ushers pass them out.
Adam gets info of all first-time guests and mugged them… with a coffee mug. (This is also info from Leading Beyond the Walls). Visits lasted 1-3 minutes outside of the front door. He didn’t go in. Adam remembered her name next time she visited.
Adam knew if he could call a person by name on their second visit, they would join the church.
Now, teams go out to take mugs. At 12:30 am Christmas morning, a team of volunteers enters data from last Christmas Eve service for an hour until it’s done, and guests get coffee mugs the DAY AFTER Christmas.
Adam says, “This is rocket science. It’s just intentionality, and seeking to love non-religious and nominally religious people. Churches that make disciples of Jesus Christ require leaders who are really sold out to Jesus Christ. Over a period of years, it’s easy to lose that. There are times when I feel like I’m just a play actor when God doesn’t seem very close anymore, and I can see it would be easy to stray off the path and make a catastrophic mistake.”
This happens when we go through the motions and are not fully engaged with the heart, when we forget our first love.
Adam told attendees that LI is a chance to rededicate your life to Jesus Christ. Adam then told about praying Wesley’s Covenant Prayer on his knees every morning. He then knelt and prayed the prayer from memory.
Adam then led the attendees in the same prayer, and we closed with a worship song. (see a pic here.)
(End of plenary session 1)