Siren Song

loud-musicThe Song:

At noon and 6pm, music pours forth from my church.  Bells, or electric facsimiles of them, send out five minutes of tunes into the neighborhood around us.  In a closet behind the sanctuary, a cassette is timed to play through outdoor speakers.

It sounds really nice.  We have a few different tapes we can play, even a tape of Christmas tunes to play in December.  I’ve threatened to look online for one that plays Beatles tunes.

The Siren:

Perched atop our building is an elaborate speaker, pointing in all four directions.  When this sound cranks up, people go into their basements.   I suppose the sound is grating, but it could save your life.

It seems to go off at least once every spring when dangerous clouds are swirling overhead. When I hear it, I feel an instant pang in my gut, a warning that all is not well.

What sort of vibe is your church putting out?

Is your church a gentle lullaby, coaxing people in, or is it a brash trumpet, alerting all to imminent danger? Does your church present itself as a sacntuary of rest and comfort, or as a watchtower blowing the whistle on the threats we face?

Which is the right one to be?

A prophetic, siren blaring church is uniquely suited for fighting injustice, for helping the marginalized.  Members of a Siren church write letters and go on marches.  They take risks and carry the banner of Jesus Christ into a broken world.

A song church that sends music out to all who can hear is sending an invitation of peace, gentleness, maybe healing.  Inside the walls of this church is a place of comfort, of creativity, of togetherness.  Members of a Song church invite others to praise God and acknowledge each other as made in the image of God.

There are, of course, many other types of churches, but still I wonder…which of these two would you be drawn to?  Is God’s Kingdom blessed by both?

In the spring, on the first Monday of the month, something interesting happens.  The siren fires up for its monthly test at the same time  that the bells begin to play.

Let me tell you, for a couple minutes there at noon, it’s quite a racket.

But to the discerning ear…

it sounds like harmony.

Have a great week,





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Being nice to people who don’t go to your church.

My church has started a new team we’ve called “Community Connections”.

Our mission statement is simple: “Being nice to people who don’t go to our church”.

As evangelism goes, it’s decidedly lightweight. But it may be the best place to start.

We’ve been looking for friendly, non-pushy, non-preachy ways to let people in our community know that we like them. (If they know we like them, perhaps they’ll give us a chance to show them that we love them.)

It may be the most basic level of evangelism, but it’s still one that comes hard for some churches, including ours.

Here’s how we got up and running:

Delicious Team Meetings.

There are about 10 of us on the team. Our task is to help the congregation find ways to connect with the community.

So, from the beginning, we have never met inside the church.

Instead? Our team tends to meet in various Mexican restaurants around town. I highly recommend this for all committee meetings.

Sitting at tables in a busy restaurant can make it a little hard to hear, but we’ve gladly exchanged Robert’s Rules for chips and salsa.

It’s made planning fun and kept us focused on the world outside our church.

The 30% Club.

Speaking of restaurants…

Our first project took almost no effort. We had little business-size cards printed up with our church logo, address, and website.

Then, we invited the congregation to take some cards and be part of the 30% club.

Here are the rules:

  1. Go out to eat.
  2. Tip 30%
  3. Leave a card.

That’s it. Our town has lots of restaurants and lots of waiters and waitresses struggling to make ends meet. By tipping such a large amount and leaving a card, we’re letting people know our church cares.

We were sure to tell people NOT to leave a card if they chose to leave a low tip due to poor service! And the cards didn’t say something like “30% club” on them, or even an invitation to church.

This wasn’t to be a bribe. Just a gift.

We didn’t know how the congregation would embrace this first project, but response was amazing. We ran out of cards and had to print more.

People loved this simple way of sharing a kindness with somebody.

Anything goes.

Our ideas seem to take us all over the place. From “random-acts-of-kindness”, like handing out bottles of water to hot downtown shoppers, to inviting community children to a kite festival, or an upcoming blessing of the animals, we’ve picked the ideas that we felt passionate about and run with them.

We’re lucky to have a graphic designer who can put together beautiful posters advertising our events, but have had to remind ourselves they’re only useful if people are willing to put them up all over town.

Let’s share.

Does your church have something like our Community Connection Team? Share what’s worked for you in the comments below.

For us, we’ve found that instead of wishing we could get more people inside the church, we’ve been having a blast finding ways to get us outside.

A church is surely meant for more than just to be “nice” to its neighbors…

But I’ll bet you a burrito it’s worth the effort.