Church #10. Meet Liz Beatty. She is the worship coordinator at East Brentwood Presbyterian Church (EBPC) in Brentwood, Tennessee. EBPC, with an average worship attendance of 80-100 on a given Sunday, is described as adaptable and relevant.
Being in a growing suburb of Nashville, EBPC has been working on church growth. Of course, this is no easy feat. But Beatty mentions that by narrowing the focus on community building, new things are buzzing inside and outside the church.
Beatty says, “Churches don’t grow from large marketing campaigns but from personal invitation.” The focus then has been meeting people where they are at and giving members opportunities to extend invitations to friends and neighbors. It’s about building community inside out.
Inside the walls. (THIS IS AN AMAZING IDEA!) EBPC, like many churches, has different groups that use their building. There is a preschool, a Boy Scout group, an Indian Tamil Language group, and an Indian dance group. But none of these groups knew each other or the staff and/ or congregants. EBPC decided to close the gap by having an event called “Springapalooza.” Each group was invited to help lead parts of a worship service whether it was the preschoolers singing, prayers written in another language or interpretative dance. Then fellowship followed with a picnic and grilled peach cobblers offered up by the Boy Scouts. What EBPC learned from this event is to build community with the people already in your building. Personal invitation is the key.
Outside the walls. To help members invite their neighbors and friends to church, last fall EBPC started a festival called “Music in the Grove.” (Check out this video!) Being close to Nashville, people love music! This event is hyped with good soulful music and fun for all ages. This spring, EBPC will host a community wide forum to help combat the public stigma of addiction and will work towards becoming a certified “Recovery Church.” (Check out the event here.) Outward focus events as a form of evangelism reach people who don’t normally enter the church doors.What EBPC has learned from these events is to build community with the people who live around your building by focusing on the needs of the community. Knowing your audience and collaboration with local experts is key.
The work that EBPC is doing is about being invitational, intentional and innovative. The simple idea of getting to know your neighbors inside and outside the walls of the church building is brilliant. “Church growth is happening!” says Beatty as EBPC just hired a part-time CYF worker.
Why does it matter for churches to get to know their neighbors? It matters because that is the model Jesus used. He did not chose to only teach the people who came inside the Jerusalem temple building. But Jesus moved around. He taught and encountered everyday people in their homes and work. Beatty says, “We need to be available to people. God’s Good News is not meant to be bottled up.”
To learn more about this story, contact Liz Beatty at 615-370-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.