“How did you come to visit Silverdale Lutheran?” I asked a new, now very faithful and connected couple, over a latte at a local coffee shop. Their reply was amazing yet so basic. “Well, we were at Rotary, and told a couple sitting with us we were searching for a church and they invited us. They said SLC is a wonderful church, and encouraged us to visit.” I thought to myself, can it really be that simple? Oh the power of an invitation!
Over the last few years, we’ve been talking a lot about connecting more people to Christ. Evangelism is a scary word. But is it really that complex? Is it really that difficult and scary? Maybe we think evangelism means we have to be systematic theologians. For sure, it is important that we learn to tell of our faith story but one part of evangelism is simply being open and passionate about inviting. Do we look for opportunities to invite people to worship? Do we remember what Jesus promised? That in the word preached and in the Sacraments of Baptism and Communion, Jesus encounters us and gives us his grace, forgiveness, and presence. These gifts are what we receive in worship. I know, our worship isn’t as “user friendly” as some churches, but why not give the Holy Spirit a chance? Even though your guest may be a little lost at first, that doesn’t mean they will not be moved by our dynamic worship or miss the core message. Another option is if you are connected to a fellowship or small group, what about inviting someone to that?
I grow more and more convinced that everyone can be an evangelist. Everyone can invite and encourage someone to come and see. I think our problem is our motivation and passion. Maybe I should speak for myself. My problem is I don’t want to be “pushy” like some other Christians who turn people off but I error way too far in the other direction. How about you? More and more, I’m coming to believe that we simply need to be more inviting to the people in our networks. This is especially true for our kids and youth! Encourage your child to invite their friends to worship, Sunday School, or the Middle, especially if they don’t want to go because they don’t have a strong connection to the other kids. Have them bring a friend along!
And yes, of course, how excited you are about SLC will affect your motivation to invite others but here is an interesting dynamic: The more you invite, the more you will be excited! The two go together and we need to start somewhere. Connecting more people to Christ will only happen because of you, not the pastors. The fastest growing and now largest Lutheran church in the world is in Ethiopia and all the leaders of that church will tell you their growth is because lay people are engaged and excited about sharing the Gospel.
No doubt, we will continue to work on the quality of our ministry but I believe it is all for not if each of us at SLC doesn’t step up our readiness to invite. Maybe this Christmas is a good time to give it a try. We’ll have some convenient cards in the narthex for you to use in the coming weeks.
I wonder where that couple would be today if they hadn’t received a simple, enthusiastic invitation?