“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.” – Luke 14:23
Easter is one of the easiest times of the year to invite people to church. Easter weekend is just around the corner, and now is a great time to invite your friends and family to celebrate with us. With 13 services in 4 locations, in addition to our online campus, there are many great opportunities to invite those closest to you to check out Northstar, maybe for the very first time.
As a staff, we do everything we can to make sure our services are creative and welcoming, but that’s not why our church has grown. Our church grows and lives are changed when you respond to God’s call to reach those in your own community. Maybe it’s the friend across the street from you; maybe it’s someone at your lunch table at school. So, who is God calling you to invite this Easter?
But in this devotional, I ask that you think both short and long-term as we approach the Easter season.
Evangelism is so much more than a conversation. It’s a life choice. It’s utilizing everything that God blesses us with to impact the people in our lives; our friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members. You have heard us say that “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” We show we care by giving of ourselves. By opening our homes, and caring for our friends and neighbors. Relationships make the awkward “Hey… Um…you wanna come to church with me” conversation much, much easier. Simple in fact. And relationships often determine the results.
You invite a friend to church. You are persuasive and even offer a perk or two such as breakfast or lunch after the service. The friend says OK, and how about Olive Garden for lunch. You are ecstatic and tell him he won’t be sorry.
When you invite an “unchurched” friend to visit Northstar, you’re asking them to come out of their comfort zone into a place that is foreign and unknown. They stand out of respect during praise and worship. You relax because things appear to be going well. Then the pastor gets up to preach. This is the aha moment. You are hoping that it will be so powerful that your friend leaps out of their seat during the altar call and heads straight for the baptismal, pausing just long enough to sign up for the membership and discipleship classes. Unfortunately, this is the one week that the pastor is preaching on tithing, unintentionally feeding into stereotypes. Your friend looks confused and doesn’t say much over his soup and salad at Olive Garden. And worse, he chose not to attend church with you next week. Hopefully, that is not where it ends. God will not stop working on your friend’s heart and neither should we.
As is so often the case, we can learn from the apostle Paul. In Acts 17:16, Paul is in Athens. He was so disturbed by the widespread idolatry that he goes to the synagogue to talk with them. Then day after day he went to the synagogue and market place and reasoned with anyone and everyone he could. People thought he was just a crazy babbler, but he kept at it. Eventually, he made such an impression that he was invited to come and share the gospel.
Paul didn’t have to drag people out of their comfort zones, he met people where they were. And he did not give up easily, because he understood the value of each life to God. Jesus did the same, and he continues to meet and love people where they are. Most of Jesus’ work was not done inside the walls of the synagogue, but in the streets, the marketplaces, and homes of others.
Let’s make it a point to love people where they are. Let’s resolve to build relationships with our friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers. And then to use those relationships to invite them to church and to talk about spiritual things. No, every effort will not be a success. But it is so worth the effort.
Imagine the day when a friend, or relative, or coworker, or neighbor is worshiping God with their hands in the air as they stand next to you. Can you see their face as they worship the one who saved them, gave them peace, joy, purpose and new life? That picture can be a reality, but it starts with a relationship and an invitation. Will you be the one God uses to take a stand?
One more thing. I won’t be talking about tithing on Easter.
- Make a list of people you want to invite to church on Easter? Do you have a relationship with that individual(s)? Have you prayed for that individual(s)?
- Have you shared your story on how God has changed your life?
- Have you considered your role after they attend Northstar? Will you continue to pray for them?
- Pray and ask God for the wisdom to invest in the lives of others in a way that draws them to Him.