So, two evenings, two missionary events for two major mission organisations, and in total only around fifity people present. That is puzzling.
Monday's was pretty small-scale, it was our link missionary coming to talk to the four churches with whom he is linked. Two dozen (or so) people wasn't massive, but sat together in our place there was a feeling of a reasonable 'audience.' Last night's was part of a big national tour with two international speakers and yet it, too, attracted only around two dozen people (more in total present because of the helpers and staff).
I think the questions that arise for me are...
- why is it so few people go along to these events?
- how successful are they in generating support - and more specifically financial support?
Is it that people now have such easy access to information via the Internet, and even by ordinary news media, that what the mission organisations have to say is not really news? Is it that people feel they've heard it all before, because actually most of the time nothing much changes? I can recall the genuine excitement years back when the cure for leprosy was found, but now we still hear of stigma, rejection, prejudice and new cases in the poorest areas... do people feel that this is 'old news'?
Most of the people who go along to missionary events are those who already support the organisations; I suspect that the retiring offerings tend to be the same people digging just a little deeper into the same pockets to support the causes they already care about. Thinking of those I knew who were there the last couple of nights from my church, they included a former TLM nurse and a former BMS missionary... we go because this is part of our story too.
So I'm puzzled. Puzzled as to what we really see as the purpose of the missionary visit/event, puzzled as to how we persuade people to come along who aren't already committed, puzzled as to what might be more effective in terms of education and fundraising.
TLMs canapes were very posh and very tasty, whilst our home-baking was simply scrummy; both were abundant... I've been well fed the last couple of evenings even if I'm still a tad puzzled.