GREENFIELD, Ind. (AP) - The pastor of a central Indiana church hopes having Sunday services on a fishing lake will reel in worshippers who might not attend a more traditional gathering.
Holding summer services at a well-stocked 10-acre fishing lake is putting new congregants at ease and making them more receptive to sermons and Gospel readings, said the Rev. Wade Compton, senior pastor at Bradley United Methodist Church in Greenfield.
The sanctuary is a pole barn that used to be a bait shop, and those attending services get two hours of free catch-and-release fishing afterward.
"We'll have people showing up that will not be coming to the fishing church in their Sunday go-to-meeting clothes," Compton said. "They'll be showing up in - who knows - maybe their waders, hats with fishing hooks in them. And they'll be at ease, and that's exactly where we want them to be. And they'll enjoy the music, the fellowship."
Several dozen people sat outdoors on lawn chairs and listened to The Farm Hands Bluegrass Quartet perform gospel music during a recent Sunday service.
Teenager Tyler Swain of Greenfield caught some fish from the shore after the service.
"I think it's great to bring in people that have never really come to church, who enjoy fishing and maybe give God's word to them and great worship services," Swain said. "I think that'll draw a lot of people."
Compton is hoping fishing enthusiasts attracted to the outdoor services will come after the season ends to the congregation's traditional limestone church in the city about 20 miles east of Indianapolis.
He said he had first thought of using the lake for youth ministry programs before deciding on holding full services there.
"Instead of walking into a room with stained glass windows in it, with people dressed up very well, you'll be stepping into God's great outdoors, and you'll come into a pole barn that's been redesigned as a sanctuary with a fisherman's theme to it," Compton said. "And it will be very laid back, and very casual and informal and yet we will focus in on the good news of Christ and the gospel."