This is a story written by Michael Frost in the book Australian Stories for the Heart.
I know of a church in a new housing area of Sydney that was trying to hold two Sunday services each week and getting very little interest in the evening service. The morning meeting drew a good number, but at night only six to ten people turned up. Sensing that it was silly to duplicate their limited resources, they decided to close the evening service/
This isn’t an unusual story. Many small or new congregations have only a Sunday morning service. But the manner in which they closed the service was unique. They invited the dozen or so people who were attending the service to covenant to use the time they would normally be in church to do something special for the community instead.
Some people committed themselves to service in the local soup kitchen. Another volunteered to take calls at a child sponsorship program. One couple decided to spend the hour they normally sat in church on Sunday evening pushing their newborn child in a pram around their neighbourhood. Of course, everyone stops young parents in the street to coo at a new baby. As people watered their lawns or washed their cars, they started up conversations with the Christian couple. This couple told me they had made more friendships, shared the love of Jesus more often and generally been more effective as the “salt and light” of Matthew 5:13-16, in their community since they stopped going to church and started pushing a baby pram.
Many churches close services and their members are free to take a Sunday evening stroll. But by inviting people to see their substitute activity as mission, this new church saw a whole raft of new possibilities emerging.
Our socialising must be intentional, missional, grace-filled and generous. It must be seen as part of a broader pattern of showing compassion within a community.