Moose Lodge – “New Members Welcome”

Today I drove through a small town in Central Pennsylvania where I saw, along a semi-depressed Main Street, the local branch of the Moose Lodge housed in a store front.  A sign in the window said, "New Members Welcome."  New Members.  Why would new members come to this Moose Lodge?  The plaster moose head on the building’s facade was chipping paint, and there was no indication on the building or signage of what the Moose Lodge was or why I would want to join it.  In fact, the odd and unkempt fake animal head and the mystery of fraternal lodges may make many people walk directly past this building without even considering membership.

Are our churches like this Moose Lodge?  Do we ask people to be members, without really explaining what it means?  Do we have odd and unkempt artifacts hanging from our facades or naves or altars or hymnal racks?  Do we simply beg to survive rather than seek to thrive?  Do people walk past (or through) our buildings every week and not understand what we’re about?

If our churches are simply looking to maintain institutions (ie, increase membership), we’re doomed.  If we’re looking to offer meaning and purpose and a Way of life for all, then then we’re on the right track.

About Chris Duckworth

Spouse. Parent. Lutheran Pastor. National Guardsman. Political Junkie. Baseball Fan.
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5 Responses to Moose Lodge – “New Members Welcome”

  1. A few years ago, our church building was in need a a spruce up. Just as houses get that way, public buildings get “tired” even faster. The building had started to look like the members just didn’t care. Paint can do wonders.
    I think of this as the back-porch phenomenum. I come in my house through the back-porch and just don’t “see” the piles of old newspapers, the boots with mud on them, the mittens still on the shelf even though it is June. But a newcomer would notice these things and think “messy.”
    Yes, we can be judged by first impressions. And we might be judged as caring, uncaring, friendly, unfriendly, etc. We might now want to be judged on superficial things, but it is important to remember that this judging is human nature.

  2. Excellent as usual. I think sometimes “church people” underestimate how intimidating church can be to the unchurched or those who’ve been burned by “christians”. We have funny buildings, our own jargon and according to most media outlets we are prejudiced against all sorts of things. Part of our job, like it or not, has to be “sprucing” things up inside and outside.

  3. revhrod says:

    LZ, you make a great point and I appreciate that, but now I want to talk about the Moose Lodge. (You judge if it has anything to do with church.)
    I lived in a small town for nearly three years. The theory was, you would be an outsider until your kids married into the town. So I would have had to wed a local, wait twenty years or so and then I could claim the place as my own.
    The idea that a small town fraternity such as the Moose Lodge was inviting new members is not necessarily a small thing. Those are the places where you can get a cold beer on a Saturday night or rent the hall for a do-it-yourself reception. Connections are made in those places, both business and friendship. News is shared and gossip is spread.
    We might be surprised by the fact that the shabby little building with the plain little sign is really an important cultural center. Of course, it would be nice if they spruced it up a bit. But then, would we feel welcome? šŸ˜‰

  4. Yo Rev,
    I don’t mean to bash the Moose Lodge – I’m sure they do good work (in fact, I visited their website and was impressed by their efforts to renew their mission over the past ten years). But the scene was just sad – an organization adorned with an odd symbol (a moose) and dilapidated dudds, asking for members, yet with no obviously compelling purpose or meaning (at least, not to me, an outsider). And I think that my bewilderment at the sight of this Moose Lodge is the same type of experience most unchurched types have when they gaze upon our churches. And no explanation of our situation will make any difference to them – until we invite them into a community of meaning, purpose and Life.

  5. revhrod says:

    Exactly…. I wasn’t disagreeing with you. I was just yammering on about the Moose and small towns. šŸ˜‰

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