Monday, 01 October 2018 14:45

Are You Inviting?

Written by  Bob Crittenden
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Recently, I was in Nashville for the annual UNITE event, sponsored by CBA: The Association for Christian Retail, from which conversations have been heard on The Meeting House; there is audio and video material available through MeetingHouseOnline.info.  One guest was Don Piper, author of the best-selling book, 90 Minutes in Heaven, who talked about his forthcoming book, People I Met at the Gates of Heaven: Who’s Going to Be There Because of You?  If you’re familiar with Don’s story, he is someone who was declared to be dead, yet returned from the dead with a story of having traveled to heaven.  In this latest book, he relates that he saw people who had an impact on his life and challenges Christians to impact the lives of others and share what it takes to get to heaven.

 

 

A LifeWay Research has been released that explores the concept of inviting people to come to church.  A Baptist Press story about the survey stated:

 

Nearly two-thirds of Protestant churchgoers say they’ve invited at least one person to visit their church in the past six months, according to a new LifeWay Research study.

 

“It’s a fairly easy thing for churchgoers to do,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, based in Nashville. “In any six-month stretch, there are major Christian holidays and often other special events that are perfect occasions for churchgoers to invite friends and acquaintances.”

 

With regard to the frequency of invitation, the article says: “Seventeen percent said they extended an invitation. Twenty-one percent extended two invitations, while 25 percent extended three or more. Nine percent said they didn’t know how many invitations they extended.”

 

There was also a question about why respondents did not invite people.  The story states:

 

Thirty-one percent said “I don’t know why” when asked why they didn’t invite more people. Twenty percent said people have refused their invitation. Seventeen percent said they didn’t know anyone to invite, while 11 percent said they weren’t comfortable asking people to come to church. 

 

 

Only 4 percent said inviting people isn’t their job.

 

The consideration of this data can certainly be challenging, and there are several takeaways. One is that we can certainly think about the priority of sharing our faith.  That can include inviting someone to come to church - someone who is unsaved and/or unchurched. People need to hear the life-giving message of Christ and experience His love. We have been commissioned to share Christ’s love and communicate His message.  Simply inviting someone to church can be an important step in what God wants to do in a person’s life. 

 

This brought to mind an effort that I have promoted in the past, an initiative organized ten years ago that is pertinent to this discussion.  It’s called Back to Church Sunday and it is celebrated on the third Sunday in September - this year, that is September 16. Its website has these statistics from the past ten years:

 

• 5,296,234 – Invitations Sent for Back to Church Sunday

• 13,399,472 people reached

• 38 Videos created

• Over 120 different denominations and affiliations have participated since its beginning in 2009

• The average church sees a 25% increase in attendance on Back to Church Sunday – even small churches

 

You can learn more at BackToChurch.com.  The concept of going “back to church” implies that a person or family may have attended church in the first place and perhaps needs a nudge in the right direction to experience that dynamic of the local church again.

 

I thought about a conversation I had at the 2018 National Religious Broadcasters Convention with Barry Meguiar of the radio feature heard on Faith Radio, Revival Outside the Walls.  He has launched a companion effort called, Ignite America.  On its website, you can read this challenge: “Move Everyone, Every Day, Closer to Jesus.”  The site states: “We’ve turned our lights off and left the world in darkness.  How are they going to know unless someone tells them . . . unless you tell them?”  That echoes the words of Romans 10:14-15a: “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?” (NKJV)

 

We can also seek to develop a passion for sharing Christ’s love.  As we grow in our love for Him, we can be so filled with adoration for our Savior that it overflows, radiating to the people with whom we interact.  We can be challenged to fall in love with Him to the degree that He walks with us and through us to touch the lives of other people; people who need to see and experience the hope of the Gospel.

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