I know how to get people to come to church – have a Yard Sale! If you weren’t there, our Indoor Yard Sale the other Saturday was a huge hit. The parking lot was packed and the downstairs was packed full of people looking for junk. . .er, I mean, lovely items. More than one of our folks remarked to me, “Wouldn’t this be great if we could get all these people to come to worship?” I was thinking the same thing. I was tempted to do something then and there. More on that in a minute.
Matt Miofsky is the pastor of The Gathering Church in St. Louis, Missouri. The Gathering is known as one of the fastest growing United Methodist Churches in the country. I heard him speak at a seminar the other day and he shared what he called The 8 Virtues of Rapidly Growing Churches. I want to mention just one of them here: Number Three – It’s About Invitation. Miofsky did some research for a book he has written on Rapidly Growing Churches and he found that one of the most important things these churches have in common is that “they are unapologetically evangelical.” What that means is that they put a disproportionate amount of time, energy, and resources in sharing Jesus Christ with new people and inviting them to church. “They are relentless about this,” Miofsky said. “Everything happening in the church must have an evangelistic mindset.”
That doesn’t mean starting a committee called the Evangelism Committee. It means that everything we are doing as a church must somehow contribute to us making disciples of Jesus Christ.
When is the last time you invited someone to worship with you? If you have to think back more than a couple months, it’s been too long. Now, studies have also shown that church people won’t invite someone to church with them if they don’t love their church and/or think it is offering something worthwhile. That makes sense. Why would you invite someone to a place you don’t really want to be either? If that is you, if you don’t think Hicks is an engaging place, please tell us that and tell us why you think that. I’m serious about this – find a way to express your concerns so that we can do better. It’s not just our reputation at stake, it’s ministry, it’s the Kingdom, it’s people’s souls that are stake.
If, however, you have found Hicks to be a worthwhile place. If you have experienced God’s presence here and want others to experience that as well, invite someone to come with you! Don’t get discouraged if sometimes people say “No.” That will happen. But what if someone says Yes? What might that mean for that person and the destiny of their life? It could be huge.
At the Yard Sale I was tempted to stand at the exit and one by one invite people to come back for worship on Sunday. Maybe I should have. I didn’t because it would have felt like bait and switch – we bait you with our yard sale and then we switch to “come to worship.” It would have felt like borderline nagging and harassment. But are there ways that we can invite people to church, conversationally and relationally? Sure there are. It’s really not complicated.
I believe that we are going to experience some great worship this month. We are going to look at things like The Meaning of Worship and The Meaning of Baptism. We are going to start a teaching series called, “Sin – The New Normal.” You’re going to hear not only me but some other good speakers from our church talk about the changing times and what God’s Word says to us. We will try to do it in a way that you and the friend you brought with you can receive and talk about in a positive way.
Look at me. I can’t stop writing about this. It’s because this is what gets me excited – to share Jesus with new people and see them come alive. It reminds me of something Jesus said to some fishermen as they were fishing by the sea:
“Follow me and I will teach you how to fish for people.” Matthew 4.19
See you and your friends in worship,
Rich Morris, pastor