Finding a Church, Part 3: Sometimes all it takes…

22 08 2009

I spent the majority of   Thursday in the stock room of the store, hanging and sizing T-shirts, sweatshirts, and athletic shorts.  While I was back there, deliveries arrived from various companies, and the representative would often come inside and chat with the managers for a few minutes before heading back onto their delivery route again.

One, a middle-aged paper saleslady, lingered a little longer than most.  From the clothing racks, I could hear her discussing everything from healthcare reform to her church’s mission trips to Africa.  When I approached, she was discussing the book Unchristian, and I piped in and told her I had enjoyed that book last year.

She turned her attention to me, and upon finding out that I was new to town, added, “I don’t know if you have found a church home yet, but my husband and I have been going to XYZ Church for the past 5 years, and we really like it.”  She proceeded to tell me all about her church’s different ministries and why it felt like home to her.  I thanked her and told her that we might check it out sometime.

See that?  See how easy that was?  I tend to get nervous about inviting people to church, for fear of offending them or intruding upon their already-established spirituality.  But being the newcomer to town, I appreciated her invitation so much!  And even if I hadn’t, I don’t think I would have been offended.

Of course it’s not appropriate to walk around and harass random strangers into going to church with you.  But this invitation was natural.  I think, more often than not, we are in danger of missing obvious opportunities to represent God in the world than we are of being too aggressive.

The paper saleslady’s church is a well-known megachurch in the area, and I’m not entirely sure that we would find our home in a place so large.  But even in megachurches (and perhaps, especially in megachurches) a personal invitation can go an awfully long way.  I told her we might check it out, and you know what?  We just might.

Godvertiser’s post from a few weeks ago talks about first-time visitors and how we as a church can do better about extending hospitality to visitors.  One key thought from this article: “Another critical point to understand is that all this is not a mandate for the pastor or staff alone.  It must be lived out by everyone who attends your church regularly.  Just as everyone knows where the bathrooms are, they need to understand how to greet visitors and enfold the one-time visitors to your church.”

The work of evangelizing and inviting and welcoming is a duty for all of us.  Both inside and outside of church, we need to do a better job of looking out for people’s spiritual needs, jumping on opportunities, helping those who look a little lost, speaking well and explaining our churches to visitors.

Because sometimes, all it takes is something small.

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One response

16 11 2009
Kenny

YES! Sometimes the Church over complicates “evangelism.” The mega churches got big because they most often understand this point. Sometimes I think it would benefit most pastors to go visit the local mega church and notice things like: 1) When/where you get greeted. For example, one time I was even greeted AT THE PARKING LOT GATE and 2) How they don’t usually single out visitors during announcements and embarrass them.

If you can divorce yourself from the criticisms you see in the content/message preached from the mega church, there’s a lot to learn!

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