I started noticing little by little. When we got back from the States in August there were a couple of families in church on Sunday that I knew from Narnia Elementary School but were not attenders of our congregation. I also noticed a few teenagers that I’d never seen before and a few more kids that were attending with families from our church.
As the weeks went by I noticed that these families and kids were coming back. And then I noticed there were some other families I’d never seen before. These were mostly families that are new to the area or who are from Banská Bystrica but are looking for a strong fellowship where they can grow in their faith.
Where are all these people coming from?
Photo credit: ubac
When Narnia was started it was with the express goal of reaching out to the community. The problem is, you can’t really bring the gospel to families just by starting a school. You need to build bridges between the school and the congregation. Slavo and Maťa knew that and so they intentionally designed certain aspects of the school to bring the families into the church.
Here’s one example. After school kids can participate in English language musicals. For a full semester or a full year they learn their lines and learn songs in English. At the end of the semester or year they perform these musicals for their parents in our church building. The musicals usually have some sort of moral that Slavo uses as a takeoff for a short presentation of the gospel.
The main idea is that people are becoming connected to the church.
Here’s another example. For about four Sunday evenings before Christmas the kids from our church, together with any kids from Narnia that want, prepare a Christmas program that they perform during the holiday season. When the parents drop their kids off, they can stay and participate in “Coffee Sundays.” During Coffee Sundays we have someone present Christian perspectives on raising kids or on marriage or even an overview of the Bible or Christianity.
Last December one of our friends attended Coffee Sundays on raising kids and ever since then she talks about how much some of the advice helped her with her daughter.
One more example. Friday after school our church has a youth group for kids from 4th-7th grade. Kids from our church attend along with kids from Narnia. During some of the youth groups, kids that play instruments get to practice worship songs with one of our worship leaders. On Sunday morning during the services these kids play a couple of the worship songs and their parents come to watch them.
Church at the Crossroads of the Community
In Slovakia, people tend to think of little denominations like ours as sects. In Slovakia you’re either Catholic or Lutheran. Everything else is weird. So usually, our goal in getting people in to the church is to help them see that we’re not a sect. The goal has been to break down that barrier between our congregation and the community.
As time goes on, we’ve found there is much more happening that just breaking down barriers. Our church (the building and the people) has become a part of people’s lives. Our church is not just a place that is no longer strange and out of the way, it’s at a crossroads of their everyday life.
The Gospel at the Core
At the core of all of this is the gospel. When people see that a school is helping their kids not just grow in knowledge but grow in to responsible young adults, they begin to look beyond the school to what’s behind it. What is it that makes this place so special?
When people start looking beyond the school we want them to find the gospel. The gospel is at the core of all we do. It’s the gospel that the kids learn in their religion classes at school. It’s that gospel that they hear about at Coffee Sundays, it’s the gospel that their kids hear about at youth group and sing about on Sunday morning.
This is why we’re excited about the ministry of Narnia. Narnia has made our church into a crossroads of the community and people are starting to find the gospel.