I don’t like inviting people to CHURCH. And no, Jesus never said go and invite people to CHURCH.
I do, however, like inviting my peeps to various aspects of our Church community.
Maybe it is just me, but I couldn’t care one iota about your “personal salvation” but would rather see you as an active member of a thriving community (of faith). Why? Because those who simply rest on one hand-shake with the pastor/momentary religious experience are not worried about community, but about individuality. They are satisfied by the experience someone else has given them.
I like the focus on the community, a community that is thriving based in diversity. Some conservatives, some liberals, some who don’t know the difference and couldn’t care less. I want believers, doubters, and nonbelievers. I want a community that is centered on the community and not on a set of must-haves, such as the pastor or a strict belief system. Orthodoxy is fine, and needed, but I rather like orthopraxy.
So, I got me to thinking… thinking something hard.
Came up with this.
Let me explain.
E is for social/media. You know, talking up your faith community via twitter and facebook, blogs or the what-not. The main thing to post? The stuff you are doing. Not the invites or the bible verses, but what you are you faith community does in the larger community. Going to a play? Post it. Assistance ministry? Post it. It is okay to look like you are bragging about the manifold things you and your community participate in to assist either the internal or the external community.
For you who insist on the attractional style of church, this should calm you just a bit.
Van is just as it sounds… getting people to come along. Don’t ask them to come to church; ask them to be involved in a project you are doing. Or to a small group meeting, such as a Sunday School class. Sure, bring them to a bible study and see what happens… Watch how you phrase it.
Say, George, I realize you are one ignorant something-o-something about the bible because you are a bloody heretic, so come with me to a bible study to see if God will save your soul. Also, Jesus rode dinosaurs. Remember, there are no atheists in hell. #holla.
Or, just maybe… Say, George, a group of us get together to talk about the bible. Some of us doubt and some of us question. You might enjoy it.
Better… Say, George, we could use your help at the assistance ministry on Wednesday nights. You like helping people right?
Here’s the other thing… be honest with them. If they feel like you are just trying to make numbers, that will and should backfire you bloody sot. If you are just using people to build your CHURCH, you don’t deserve the people you got. #amen.
When I invite people, I am honest. Hey, look. I just want you to come to make me look special. Or, hey, I just want your money in the coffers.
No, seriously. Try to be honest. Look, I like church and it works well for me. You might like it too. I don’t care if you ever come, and I don’t care if you ever believe. But, I sure would like you to come and see what we are doing because we are doing this, this, and that.
GEL relates how to get these people as part of the community over all. Maybe they are ready for Sunday morning. Maybe they need something more than the initial small group you introduced them to. Remember, these are not your people. They are you community and you are in theirs. Here’s the thing, you don’t have to go to Church on Sunday morning to be a Christian. Sure, I like worship service and believe you should if you can/could/would, but in the end, I would rather no one really spend their time inviting people to CHURCH (noun). Maybe, instead, invite them to church (verb). And once they are there, like new bricks and stone and wood, see where they fit in.
ISM. So, after a while, maybe they need to know what the community as a whole believes. This is where Sunday comes into play. Or maybe an actual bible study. Or a new members class. The doctrines, the creeds, the basic beliefs. Frankly, not everyone will get to this stage. Remember the first word in Evangelism is Evangel. You know, good news. So, if they don’t get here, who cares?
Because if they are gellin’ they are a part of the community, giving and taking, and giving, and maybe even inviting. They are learning along the way, of course, but more than that, they are teaching, reaching.
Is the church community more important than the Gospel?
Can you really separate the two?
I don’t want to focus on developing this, because, well, this is not what I do, but there are more ideas to be placed here, explored, developed.
I guess my main concern is the “We have to get people into Church!” No, no we do not. That sort of siege mentality has destroyed the Church and diluted the Gospel. If we are the kingdom, then our focus is the king. We can simply invite people to live with us without worrying if they will eventually publicly change their citizenship. There are no illegal immigrants in the Kingdom of God, after all…
My intention is to no longer invite people to CHURCH (noun), but to church with us (VERB).
(also, because this is a blog, I don’t care ne’r a bit about editing, etc…)
- Schleiermacher Loves Church Camp (bloodstainedink.wordpress.com)
- The Church’s biggest crisis? (godandpoliticsuk.org)
- From the Brain of Bart: Questioning Parachurch-ism (juicyecumenism.com)