Reformed Churches place a high premium upon theological precision. This is certainly important and necessary. It is a weighty thing to stand in the pulpit each and every Lord’s Day and herald the gospel of Christ, the aroma of death for some and life for others (2 Cor. 2:15-16). As important as it is to give attention to the weighty matters of theology, I’ve all too often seen a dearth of attention given to practical concerns.
When I’ve been asked what the most effective method of getting visitors to the church is, people are surprised by my answer: a permanent church sign. We met for a number of years in a rented facility where we dragged our sign out and put it up on Sunday mornings, but by the end of the day the sign disappeared back into our storage closet only to reappear the following Sunday. If you lived in the area and drove down the road, you’d only know the church existed if you happened to drive by on Sunday morning. Even then, you’d have to be able to read well from a distance because the sign was small. When we moved to another rented facility that allowed us to post a permanent sign, we saw a large jump in attendance from visitors. Why? Because they were driving by, saw the sign, and decided to visit.
Yes, God is sovereign. Yes, God will draw the elect unto himself to build Christ’s church. And, yes, only the preaching of the gospel and the sovereign work of the Spirit makes these things happen. But God not only ordains the end (salvation) but the means, both through the means of grace and something as common sense as a church sign. How will the surrounding community know of your existence if you never tell them that your church is in the community?
So as important as it is to rely exclusively upon the means of grace to bring people to a saving knowledge of Christ, don’t forget to exercise some common sense. Use multiple means to announce the church’s presence in the community: tell your friends and invite them to church, if possible, post a permanent church sign, place door hangers on the community surrounding your church, establish a basic webpage. Be creative and let the community know where they can find the living water of the gospel each and every week.