Three weeks ago I announced that the Elders set a goal for 20% growth in attendance by Easter Sunday. We then exceeded that goal the next two Sundays. So I’m announcing we can now declare victory and stop reaching out. Great work, team!
I’m kidding, of course. But it is encouraging to see the unusually gracious response to personal outreach in our surrounding neighborhoods. Maybe it’s “Zampella love” (that’s what I call the delicious food on Wednesday nights) and maybe it’s you being faithful to the “My 3” prayer focus. Whatever the cause, we are seeing people respond and it’s exciting.
But we don’t reach out for our sake â€“ so we can feel good about attendance. We reach out for their sake, so our not-yet-friends can know the goodness of the life Jesus has opened to us. Yes, it’s work to reach out. And as Jesus noted in Matthew 9, “the harvest is plentifulâ€¦ (that’s the exciting part) â€¦but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” So we’re not done yet; indeed, weâ€™re just getting moving again.
In that vein I’ll mention two types of workers we need:
- Drivers: to transport those who don’t have cars.
- Post-ers: to drop off invitation cards at nearby houses to advertise our
special Advent series, “Fear Not.”
Let me know if you can do either.
Reaching out to people in your network doesn’t involve doing something more ; it involves doing something intentionally. Things like putting invitation cards in your purse to invite a co-worker, in your gym bag to invite the guy at the gym, and on your frig to remind you to invite your neighbor. It’s pretty simple. I’ve read that a third of American non-believers would come to church if a friend invited them. That’s amazing if it’s true.
If you’re reluctant to invite others because you’re private about your faith, I have a story for you. Jean was a woman I knew from my church in Maryland â€“ a wonderful lady whom I loved spending time with. The church did 40 Days of Purpose and everyone was asked to bring a friend to the kick-off. Jean decided to invite her best friend, someone she’d known for over 30 years. When Jean made the invitation, her friend responded “What? You go to church? Wow, so do I!” (True story!)
OK, some of us get nervous about inviting others because we’re private about faith (a.k.a. “chicken”). Jesus says something pretty frightening about that: Whoever acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; whoever does not acknowledge me before others I will not acknowledge before my Father in heaven (Matthew 10:32-33). Look, the love of Jesus was extremely costly; if you’re not willing to represent him because you’re scared of your neighbor, you fear the wrong thing.
How’s THAT for motivation?
Here’s a key to reaching out: your invitation is the beginning of a conversation. Your invitation might get declined or it might get accepted, but it starts something. So even before you make the first invitation, think how you might deepen the conversation:
- “Hey, I just realized I don’t know anything about your beliefs or background.”
- “Hey, I know your wife is sick. I made some soup for you. Would it be alright if I prayed for you guys?”
- “What made you move away from the faith?”
- “I’m interested in Islam. Tell me more about your faith.”
- “Honey, you’ve been avoiding this question for a long time. What are you scared of?”
In other words, don’t preach; be curious and ask questions. An invitation to a church event after a conversation like this is even better.
We have two events coming up you can invite people to: our Advent series “Fear Not” beginning on Sunday12/5 (see info in this newsletter) and “Search for the Christ Child” on the evening of Wednesday 12/15 (also in this newsletter). Think about who you might invite and pray that our Father will be working in his or her heart.