Posts Tagged evangelism
A few years ago I read a shocking paragraph in Thom Rainer’s book, The Unchurched Next Door:
82 percent of the unchurched are at least ‘somewhat likely’ to attend church if they are invited. Perhaps we need to pause on this response. Perhaps we need to restate it: More than eight out of ten of the unchurched said they would come to church if they were invited.
This seemed astonishlingy high, yet also encouraging for those of us who would like to see our friends, families, and neighbors discover a relationship with God. Is it really true?
Well, a few years later, the research has shown Rainer’s estimations are slipping. Nonetheless, recent statistics are encouraging. A recent survey discovered that 63% of people are somewhat or very willing to receive information about a church from a family member and 56% are somewhat or very willing to receive information from a friend or neighbor.
Additionally, 38% (almost 4 out of 10) have said they are more open to considering matters of faith during the Easter holiday season.
None of this is really too surprising. But it does mean that if there was ever a time to invite a friend or family member to church, this would be it. Click here for information about Second Mile’s Easter Celebration, and pass it on to someone you love.
Want to make a difference for those who are guests on Sunday? Here’s a very simple way: Show up early.
As a pastor, I’m at our gathering location early every week. And I’ve noticed that, at least at our church, only 3 kinds of people show up early (at least 10 minutes before):
- Older people
- New people
Older people are just respectful and are basically not in a hurry, ex-cons have been subconsciously trained that if they don’t show up early they don’t eat, and new people are there because they didn’t want to show up late and get embarrassed.
When these guests arrive, wouldn’t it be great if there were a bunch of genuinely joyful people there, excited about the chance to be together and celebrate Jesus? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were loving, devoted Christ-followers ready to strike up a conversation or say hello?
If you were a guest, that’s what you’d want. And all it takes is showing up early.
I know, I know…it takes kids forever to get moving in the morning, especially when you want them to hurry. But they do it for school and you do it for work. Why? Because showing up early to those things is important to you. Shouldn’t the opportunity to love on guests to our church (people who are likely exploring the faith) be just as important?
There is low-hanging gospel fruit and ministry every week for those who will take it. So join me, your pastors and the band and come love on some new people!
For a context of this discussion, see The Sermon Starts in the Parking Lot.
Making a difference with the guests to our church is not hard. It takes surprisingly little effort. But, sadly, few Christians intentionally focus on this opportunity to love and serve our neighbors. When we invite our own friends and family, we do this naturally. But what about the other Sundays when other people have invited their friends?
Make a mind-shift.
Colin Marshall writes:
See church as a place where Christians go to work. Church is a gathering of God’s people to hear his word and respond in faith and obedience. In this gathering, we are in fellowship with each other, through the blood of Jesus, and, because of our fellowship, we seek to serve each other. We use our gifts and abilities to strengthen one another and build Christ’s Church— ‘edification’ is the word often used to describe what goes on in church. All believers are involved in building the church, not just clergy or preachers. The New Testament consistently teaches that in the growth of the body of Christ each part must do its work (see Eph 4; 1 Cor 12-14). Because of this, we aren’t to see ourselves merely as part of an organization called [Second Mile Church], but as servants of God’s people, eager to meet the needs of others even if it means sacrificing our own.
This will change your reasons for going to church. Make the shift from being the ‘helpee’ to the helper, the served to the servant. Church is where we seek spiritual food and encouragement in order to become more godly; but church is also where we go in order to feed other people and encourage them. In God’s mercy, we become more Christ-like in the process, as like him we deny ourselves for the sake of others.
Why do you think we do this naturally when we bring guests to church, but we forget it the other weeks?
Our mission to take the gospel to people and make disciples is definitely not limited to what we do on Sunday — it happens all the time, everywhere we go. But it should also be happening at the Sunday gathering. If we can’t do it well there, we’ll have a hard time doing it elsewhere. Everything we do when we gather is a chance to communicate the beauty of Christ.
One of my favorite parts of being in the Acts29 Network is the exposure and relationships that I have with some wonderful leaders. One of the VPs of Acts29 is Jeff Vanderstelt, one of the pastors at Soma Communities in Tacoma, Washington. He’s been out for a number of different training events with the Surge Network and other things, and every time he comes I’m challenged.
Here’s a brief video that summarizes one of Jeff’s core strengths — living on a gospel mission in community. Take a look and I’m sure this will challenge and stretch you.
How could you begin to live in similar ways with people in your life and/or Community Group?
This past Sunday we shared Louie Giglio’s powerful message, “Anchor of Hope” from his series, “Hope When Life Hurts Most” (you can watch it here or buy the DVD here). One of the most memorable parts of the message was when Louie was sharing about Ashley, the college student who became a Christian after a friend attended the Passion 2007 conference and then died a few months later, just before her graduation (Louie’s talk, “Fruitcake and Ice Cream” tells more of Ashley’s story as well).
Louie also shared about his subsequent interactions with Ashley’s atheist dad, Mike. He said they were in dialogue about Jesus and pursuing a friendship but that there wasn’t a “bow” to wrap around the story — no obviously happy ending.
Well, I was informed yesterday that there is more to the story, which Louie shared with his church last January. In his message, “God is For Us” (about Romans 8), Louie concludes by telling what has happened with Mike in the last few years.
We’ve cut the audio down to about 18 minutes here. You don’t want to miss this!
P.S. Sometimes there IS a bow! It just takes longer than we might hope or expect.
Last week we looked at some key aspects of what it means to be a “missional” church. For our more visual learners, here are six videos that together help to paint a picture of what we’re talking about. Consider it a “crash course” in missional thinking
HT: Will Mancini