This past Sunday I introduced a sermon series for February called, “You Are Invited.” I don’t know if you have noticed it or not, but those words have remained at the top of our church sign since the beginning of December. We kept those words there for our Family Advent-ture and our Christmas Eve Services.
We receive general invitations all the time. I get invitations almost every day, multiple times a day, and no, I am not popular. I get invited to buy stuff. To try a product. To fill out a survey. I get hooked by the free samples and free trials. Usually, I’m pretty good at staying on top of it, but now am the subscriber to some things that I was hoping were only going to last a week. But just like our sign saying, You Are Invited, general invitations don’t really mean the same thing as a personal one, from someone you know.
As an example, I started one of my workout groups with some guys in the church in Hampton, GA. We called ourselves The Five Hunnert because the Atlanta motor speedway was there and there were five of us to start. Every day after the workout I would say to them, invite your friends and neighbors to come to join us! Now, I know coming to do a boot camp workout at 5:30 am is a hard sell. However, I think it is really good for people, and so I have no problem inviting you. But one time I told the guys there my usual speech, and they looked at me and said, “we don’t know anyone to invite.” Everyone we interact with is right here. To which I responded, “guys, I think I know why our church isn’t growing.”
So, all during February, we are going to talk about inviting. Inviting your neighbors to be a part of your lives. Inviting your friends to church. Making our church an inviting place. We do not need gimmicks or hard sells to invite our neighbors, we simply need to get to know them, and ask them to come.
A short example of how this works. I sat on the district board of ordained ministry, and one of the things we had to do every year was interview all of the licensed local pastors to make sure they were keeping up with their credentials so they could be approved to continue to serve in this capacity. One young guy came through. He was seeking ordination, but in the meantime was serving as a youth minister and was a licensed local pastor in the meantime. We asked him about his work, his education, and we asked him how he was taking care of himself mentally, physically, and spiritually. He told us, “Spiritually I am doing well working in the church, and mentally I’m doing well because of my wonderful family, but physically I could be better. I have a. young family and that takes up all of my time.” So, I invited him, would he like to come to work out with me? I told him the details and he laughed. I told him I would come to pick him up and drive him there, and that I think it would be good for him. So, this added an extra hour to my already early morning to go get him from Stockbridge and bring him down to Hampton, and then take him back. But I did. I did that for several weeks until he started driving himself. Then he started inviting people closer into his community, and we started a second location in Stockbridge, and when the pandemic hit, those guys supported and loved one another and kept one another active throughout the whole lockdown.
It all starts with an invitation, and a willingness to follow through. We are a wonderful church with good things happening. I believe it is good for people to be here, and to know this love and community in their lives. Of course, I’m going to invite people, and I hope we all do the same.