This weekend, we had the opportunity to walk around the neighborhood near our church and invite people to our upcoming Christmas Eve service. Already, only one sentence in to this blog post, I know I’ve divided almost the entirety of my blogging audience in half.
Half of you are giving me that shifty-eye look. “You mean walk up to peoples’ houses? And knock on their doors? And start talking about church and Jesus? Nope. Absolutely no way. I will not. That’s too uncomfortable, (avert eye contact) you’re a “crazy” Christian.”
The other half of you might have thought something like this, “I know it’s important to spread the good news, and I truly want to share it with other people, but inviting strangers to church is just not acceptable in our society any more. People will slam their doors in your face, tell you off for being offensive, or any number of things. It makes more sense to invite the people you already know to church.”
Well let me try to debunk both of those thought processes.
First of all, we’re talking about people. Human beings. Not flesh-eating walruses (I don’t know why walruses, it just came out). The very worst thing that could happen to you is someone shuts the door and asks you to leave. “Okay have a nice day. But remember, I don’t need your permission to pray for you,” you mumble as you walk away.
Secondly, you are called to spread the good news of the gospel. One of my favorite phrases which has stuck with me for awhile and I can’t remember where I heard it, but it goes like this: Your faith is very personal, but it is not private. Meaning, yes the relationship I have with Jesus is a deeply personal experience, one that only he and I will ever fully understand. HOWEVER I’m not called to hoard that experience to myself, never letting anyone else appreciate the work that is being done in me. Instead, I’m called to share it with others to inspire them and show them love.
Luke 8:38 says, “The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you. So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.” (NIV)
If you have faith in Jesus, if you’ve received healing and new life in him, you can’t help but to share it with other people. When you have the most valuable thing, freely given to you, you tell people!
Ladies, how many times has someone complimented your favorite scarf and you exclaim, “Thank you, I got it from a thrift store for one dollar!”? When you have an exciting treasure in your possession, you want to share how you got it. And Christ is worthy to be shared.
For all you people in category 2, I’ve been there. I used to think people would react exactly how the world has told me they would react. They would be annoyed, offended, and spiteful toward my faith. After all, you’re not even allowed to say Merry Christmas anymore let alone invite someone to a Christmas church service!
Friends, each and every time I have done something like this, my experience has been just the opposite. People are people. They are real. They are wounded. They are kind. They are willing to hear what you have to say. They don’t slam their door in your face (it’s 2017, if they don’t want to talk to you, they just don’t answer the door). People are still people.
Please hear me when I say, all hope is not lost on people. Jesus is still moving. Hearts are still yearning for something more. And we are blessed enough to take part in God’s work. Don’t miss the opportunity.
This weekend we prayed with a woman who’s sister was suffering from a severe mental health disorder. We met a man with three daughters who was praying the problems in their family would stay away for good. We met a man who’s wife was struggling with health problems. And another man who’s wife just saw victory over her health struggles. We encountered people who told us they already went to church, others who said it was a coincidence we were there because they had recently been thinking about finding a church home (*hint not a coincidence, but God pursuing them).
No door slamming. No offense taken. No yelling. But tears, honesty, prayer, kindness, and hope. So much hope. I never would have experienced any of this if I gave in to the lies that inviting strangers to church meant I was a crazy Christian and people will inevitably react negatively toward me.
Remember, Jesus is worth it. He’s worth the risk of feeling uncomfortable. He’s worth the time it takes to invite others to experience the kingdom. He’s worthy of more than we can ever offer him. So while you may think I’m a “crazy” Christian or that the idea of doing something like this is scary, never forget the great gift you’ve been given. And remember that gift is personal, but not private. It is worthy to be shared.