Last weekend when the snow moved up the east coast many of our cities found themselves blanketed with several inches of snow. In the city of Philadelphia there is a new law requiring that the path on the sidewalks now need to be thirty-six inches wide. This new wider path will enable people to walk safely on the sidewalk and not venture out into the streets. This will also be a distinct help for people who use wheelchairs as well.
Mayor Nutter himself went out to shovel snow last week and he called on everyone to “give me 36.” He led by example and encouraged everyone to dig wider for safety and accessibility. I hope that all of our churches will see to it that the snow is shoveled and there be a wide path to the doors of our houses of worship.
I hope that you will use this as an allegory for church growth as well in 2011. Set some goals to widen your congregation’s ministry! Widen your outreach to new people! Can you take in 36 new members this year? Can you increase your worship attendance by 36 or maybe by 360? Can you widen your circle of concern to reach out in ministry and mission with people who are poor, with people who look different than you, with younger people, and with people with disabilities? It might take some “shoveling” of old habits, fears and apathy, but it can be done. With God’s help and our pastors and lay leaders setting the tone we can reach more people for Jesus Christ.
Give me 36!