“I thought you would never ask me!” This is what someone who I know heard from his lifelong friend, when he invited him for the first time, to come to church. It should not be a big deal, but unfortunately, it is. Our people have a lot of difficulties asking people to come to church, even when it is for a special occasion.
I am not talking about Evangelism. Evangelism is when you present the Gospel to someone. Most of the people in our churches are not ready for that. But that should not become an excuse for us to not invite someone to church. This is something everybody can and should do.
There is a story in the Gospel of John that illustrates very well the attitude that we all should have. It is the story of Philip and Nathanael (John 45-50). Jesus called Philip to follow Him, the next thing that Philip did was to invite Nathanael to come and meet Jesus. This story gives us some insights about the art of inviting people to church.
The first lesson is about the decision to do it. We need to understand that we are not inviting the person to change his religion, to adopt our theology, or to participate in a cult full of mysteries. We do not know if Philip knew Nathanael or not. We do not know if Nathanael was looking for the Messiah or not. Philip just popped the question.
The other lesson is about the simplicity. We should keep it simple. It is a small decision, but it can make a really big difference. You should not make it complicated. Do not try to explain a lot of things, and do not apologize, just ask.
One lesson that we really should learn with Philip is how to handle resistance. When Nathanael told him: “John 1:46“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?”Philip did not tremble and became afraid to continue the conversation, he just said: “John 1:46Come and see”. You should know that your friendship is not on the line. If they do not want to come it is their loss. You did your part. Just be careful not to put too much pressure on them, or they will start to avoid you. They just need to know who to talk to if the Spirit touches their hearts and moves them to look for a church.
Finally, we should be willing to bring them to church. When you invite someone be ready to make some changes in your regular and traditional comportment. If you have arranged to pick them up, get there earlier. Introduce them to other members. If they have children offer to go with them to the Children’s area. Sit with them. Explain parts of the service if they are not accustomed with the kind of service that your church offers. These are just a few small things that can make their visit pleasant.
Finally, do not underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit. Philip just invited and took Nathanael where Jesus was. Jesus and the Holy Spirit did the rest. You probably know that Nathanael became one of the twelve disciples of Jesus. We never know what can happen and who will have their lives changed, and we can never know when the Spirit will touch somebody’s heart and change it forever. Just invite someone to church!
Have a blessed week,