Thursday, November 29, 2012

How Do You Invite People To Church?

Pastor’s Wednesday night message started me thinking about inviting someone to church. Why? What are we expecting? That’s going to depend on how well we know them, what age they are and what they are going to hear.

If they come to Sunday School, there will be lessons prepared, age appropriate, a teacher and other students who may know a lot more than a newcomer. Seems designed to make the newcomer a bit uncomfortable.

So, let’s say Worship Service instead.  Ooops, how’s that going to work when the purpose is defined by the title – Worship. How’s the newcomer going to react to the psalmist’s description:

Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. (Psalms 29:2 KJV)

How will our invitee react to this:

O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. (Psalms 95:6 KJV)

Would our hypothetical invitee participate? Probably not, unless they’ve mentioned earlier they are Christians, but often we are inviting people that 1) we know are not Christians, or 2) we have no idea about their religious preference. And that’s what we need to change. We need to spend time away from church with the people we’re inviting. Do some preparation.

Take a look at the first services after the resurrection:

And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. (Acts 2:40-42 KJV)

Been to one of those services lately? Well, not the three thousand, but it is a blessing to see a couple baptized, a family united for eternity. We also hear words of testimony and exhortation during our worship services – is the invitee ready for that?

Shouldn’t we be doing some prep and explain why we’re inviting these people to church? We have good news for them and we should be explaining that long before asking them to come worship with us, shouldn’t we? We are asking them to a religious experience, shouldn’t we be able to discuss religion with them before they attend?

Do we say, “Come to church with us next Sunday?” instead of saying, “I would like for you to join us in worshiping the Lord this Sunday.” Do we take it for granted that our invitee knows the purpose of the church? To be honest, why would a non-believer want to come to a service designed to worship a God they do not know or understand. How can we expect them to understand the message if we can’t explain it?

We need to be witnessing with our words, our actions, our every day life. All of that should shout why we worship and why we would share the experience.

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