Would You Like to Come to Church With Me?
Jerry N. Duncan, Ph.D., ABPP
I had a pleasant experience I’d like to share with you. A man invited me to his church. It was not so much the invitation itself that surprised me. It was the statement that followed. He said, “I am finally going to a church that I’m not embarrassed to invite someone to.” Attending our church of choice based only on tradition or habit will often leave us less than excited about inviting someone to join us in our empty experience.
As I was growing up in church, I remember thinking of the people that went out on “Visitation Night” as the courageous/super-spiritual anbassadors of our church. It is amazing how fear-of-rejection issues has kept many of us from reaching out to others.
What does it take to make involvement with other followers of Jesus a positive and attractive experience? Is it dazzling presentations in visuals, preaching, or music on a designated day of the week?
What do you think of this story?—“Squire Hughes was one of the first settlers west of the Miami River in Ohio. He would ride twenty miles on horseback to worship at the Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati. The first time he entered the church and walked down the aisle, all the pew doors were closed. No one invited him in. As he returned from the front of the church seeking a seat, a few opened the doors of their pews. He scorned their belated hospitality, went out of the church, found a board, carried it back down to the front, and sat down on it. After the benediction he picked up the plank, put it on his shoulder, and strode out, mounted his horse, and rode away. The next time the pioneer came to old First Church, every pew was opened to him. A stranger had taught the congregation a lesson in Christian courtesy.”
What if we couldn’t invite someone to our church until that person asked us why we were doing some act of kindness or some form of sacrificial service to him/her? Would it make that person, and us, feel better about the invitation?
Or, what if we had developed such a positive and close relationship with a person that he/she asked us about going to church with us because he/she liked hanging out with us? Would it make the experience in church more positve for both of us?
If what the needs theorist, William Glasser, said is true--that man really only has two needs: 1)to love and be loved; and 2)to feel worthwhile to ourselves and to others—we have a lot to offer when inviting someone to join us on our journey of following Jesus and being involved with like-minded followers.
To know that you are deeply loved by the creator of the universe is worth a lot. To know that His primary calling is to be a practical extension of that love to everyone in our path is quite a mission! It is a mission that brings a peace, joy, and contentment that cannot be duplicated in any other way.
Let’s make the way we live an “invitation.”