By the Advocate
What actually happens when church members get out and knock on doors in their communities?
One new Mississippi Conference church recently found out, while another will soon.
Recently Bishop Hope Morgan Ward and the cabinet encouraged local congregations to knock on doors in their communities in response to the annual conference’s theme regarding doors as a means of “radical hospitality” as the denomination seeks to re-think church.
The idea of knocking on nine doors for each of our conference’s 1,137 churches was first uplifted by the Rev. Rick Wells of the New Albany District who challenged each of church in the Mississippi Conference to knock on at least 9 doors of homes of non-members as a means of helping fulfill the mission of, “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
Rather than knock on nine doors, Anderson South pastor the Rev. Tim Howard and the launch team members knocked on more than 629 doors in August. The month was designated as a ‘kick-off” for Anderson South. The kick off included Anderson South not only knocking on the 629 neighborhood doors in their South Jackson neighborhood but also included a free community picnic, health fair, school supply giveaways and worship services. More than 500 persons attended the picnic and health fair. The worship services attracted at least 225 persons. Special guests who participated in the worship services were Ward, the Rev. Joe May (pastor of Anderson UMC), the Revs. Rudy and Juanita Rasmus of Houston, Texas, Mississippi Supreme court Chief justice William C. Waller, the Rev. Embra Jackson (administrative assistant to the bishop), the Rev. Maxine Bolden and the Anderson Church Choir.
Meanwhile at Kosciusko First UMC, 13 groups have been identified out of the congregation (Sunday school classes, Bible study groups, choir, etc.) and each group will be knocking on nine doors.
“Actually, they will be throwing in an extra door per group just for good measure,” says Dr. Donald Patterson, pastor of Kosciusko First, “…but Knock On Nine sounds better than Tap on Ten."
Packets have been prepared to give to residents of the homes visited. Patterson said the packets are “kind of like a church version of a chamber of commerce welcome packet for new residents.”
The packets include the book The United Methodist Church – Together We Can; brochures introducing Kosciusko First UMC, its history, worship and program opportunities, Sunday school classes and mission initiatives; a letter from the pastor; a UMC refrigerator magnet and four coupons for free meals at their Wednesday evening “First Family Fellowship” supper.
Members from the church are helping the membership secretary compile a list of homes to visit which includes non-members, non-churchgoers and aims to meet the conference focus of reaching “more people, more young people, more diverse people.”
“The initiative is not a recruitment venture; it is an extension of hospitality — not intrusive, theological or doctrinal. We will introduce ourselves and let them know that we’re here if they ever need us,” says Patterson. “If one person from each ‘knocked-on-door’ shares news of the visit with their average cohort (six other persons), we will have extended the hand of hospitality to 780 persons. That amounts to a little over 10 percent of Kosy's population. Light a candle for us.”
For more information on Kosciusko First’s Knock On Nine initiative contact Patterson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let the conference office know how your church is accepting the challenge to Knock on Nine. Send your information to the conference office at email@example.com. We will share your information with churches across the conference. And, don’t forget to report back on the number of doors you’ve opened. For more information contact Lisa Cumbest Michiels, Mississippi Conference communications director at 601-354-0515 ext. 17.