Hugs and kisses


by Major Terry CamseyOne of my favorite comedians is Dudley Moore. Born in England, he has appeared in a number of films but first attracted my interest when he partnered with Peter Cook in a television series Not only…But also…

We still have a video of vignettes reissued in the early 1990s under the same title. When we want a good laugh–we put it on.

I saw Dudley Moore on “the box” twice over Christmas. First, receiving an award at Buckingham Palace. What a heart-rending thing it was to see him now ravaged by disease and barely recognizable without his smile. But then, almost by accident, we watched the film Santa Claus–The Movie on television.

In it, Dudley was an elf working for Santa Claus at the North Pole. He had oodles of great ideas to make the elf-run toy production factory run more efficiently. Unfortunately, in attempts to cut corners, he produced shoddy goods that fell apart and disappointed the young recipients of the gifts. However, the film was “not only” about that, “but also…”

…Elf Dudley also quoted a statement made by Mrs. Santa Claus. It was a phrase that has stayed with me since: “If you give extra kisses, you get bigger hugs!” What an insight and, indeed, inspiration that simple phrase contains. To paraphrase: “The more we demonstrate sincere care for, and interest in, those who visit our corps, the greater number of people we shall see coming to visit us!” Good news spreads quickly.

I had read something recently that resonated with Mrs. Claus’ comment. It was in fact the summary of a study into “what is it that results in formerly unchurched people coming to church and staying?” The study covered 14 denominations and independent churches in 48 states and was completed by Thom S. Rainer (Dean of Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary).

The research highlighted seven influences: the primary relationship that brought them to Christ and kept them in church was a family member; the most receptive generational group is aged 7-24 with 83% Christians coming to Christ before age 20; high expectations of members; 98% were reached by personal evangelism; the pastors involved themselves weekly in modeling personal evangelism; 90% pastors saw preaching as the most important thing they do each week; and quality of music, facilities, etc. was considered important.

In short, they “give more kisses and get more hugs!”

We hear a lot of “How many…?” jokes these days and the Rainer study posed the question “How many church members does it take to reach one person for Christ in a year?” This has to do with both effectiveness, in terms of results, as well as the efficient use of such human resources as may be available to any church.

You see, the bottom line…THE bottom line…of all we do is measurable in terms of addition of people to the Kingdom of God. That must, surely, cause us to at least examine the results of all our busy-ness, and at best to see how we can improve the ratio between activity and results.

How many church members does it take to reach one person for Christ in a year?

On average, the Rainer study concludes, it takes 85 church members a year to reach one person for Christ! Is that good or bad? How does it look in your corps?

Sharing is caring!