Posted by: pastortomvabeach | December 1, 2014

Thought for the Week December 7, 2014

It’s hard to believe it’s here already. But we must believe it. The stores have had Christmas decorations up for over a month and Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday are all history already. Christmas is upon us.

The Assemblies of God has discontinued publishing The Pentecostal Evangel, and is replacing it with an online version plus a bi-monthly magazine called Vital. The inaugural edition had an article entitled, A Personal Invitation to Church Still Matters, by Mike Burnette, Pastor of LifePoint Church in Clarksville, TN, that may challenge us all, especially during the Christmas season.

Mike writes, “We are eager to invite our friends to all sorts of activities we love. We invite them to sporting events, concerts, neighborhood picnics, even community outreach events at our church. But there seems to be something unnerving about inviting peers to a Sunday service at our church. Assuming you are a part of a healthy church, I want to give you a few reasons I believe a personal invitation still matters and some advice on overcoming the obstacles of extending one.

“1. You are the best PR for our church. No amount of mailers or flyers can replace the value of a personal invitation from you to someone else. You are the best PR for your church. You know the reasons why you love your church and you are the best person to convey those reasons to the person you are inviting. A personal invitation has also been proven by many researchers to be the most effective way to increase visitors in a church.

“2. There is nothing to be afraid of. We live in a culture that is so concerned with offending people or hurting feelings. We are afraid of talking about important things, like politics or religion, and somehow we have assumed that inviting someone to church means we could offend. Yet, have you ever gotten into a fight with anyone because you simply invited them to join you for church? I’ve never been ostracized, ridiculed, or blacklisted from friends because I extended myself in this way. Most people I know already know I am a Christian and involved with church and ministry. Some have even said they were glad I finally invited them. Is going to church something you value? If so, you should be excited to invite someone to join you.

“3. Your church is not THAT weird. I hear about Christians who are nervous of embarrassed to invite their friends to their church because they think something unusual or uncomfortable might happen. Here’s a thought: Rather than depend on what people do or don’t do in your church, simply invite your friend and beg God to show up and change their heart. Pray that your church maintains a balanced approach to ministry; maybe even offer to help bring that balance by becoming an integral part of the culture. Don’t forget that you are there, too. If someone chooses to join you at a service, they probably don’t think you are weird. And you can always offer to help them with any questions or discomfort that may arise.

“4. If we take Scripture seriously, we should take church seriously. If we truly believe the Bible, then we understand a few things: heaven and hell are real, every human being will stand before God in judgment, Christians have been commissioned to make disciples, and God’s wisdom should be made known to the world through the church. Pentecostals, historically, have had a real urgency about these realities. This is what shaped our missional beginnings. God desires that no one should perish but all come to repentance…and it is through the church that salvation is preached. Of course, you should participate in the mission of God every day and reach lost people, but don’t forget the value of the local church and the weekend experience in seeing those lost people come to Jesus.

“My hope is that every in our churches realizes what Bill Hybels has said for years: ‘The local church is the hope of the world.’ I suggest we change our attitude from assuming people will say no and just believe that many will be interested in a personal, sincere invitation to church. It is God who builds His church, it is God who draws all people to Himself, and it is God who saves, not you. But we get to be a part of this glorious process. We are co-laborers with Christ and joint heirs with Him for eternity. What a blessing to welcome others into this promise.”

Does that speak to you? So many studies have shown that the majority of people will respond positively to a sincere invitation from a friend to church. This is the best time of year to be an inviter. Christmas often turns peoples’ thougths towards the sacred and many would go to church during the Christmas season, if they had a place they could go and not be a stranger. Being with a friend makes attending a new church much easier.

So I want to challenge everyone who reads this thought: will you commit to invite at least one person that you know to church with you some time during this Christmas season? Maybe it would be a Sunday leading up to Christmas, maybe Christmas Eve to the special candlelight service. Whatever it is are you up to the challenge? The worst that can happen is they say no or get upset, but the getting upset part is not likely to happen. Go tell it on the mountain. Invite someone to church. Just a thought

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