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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The power of invitation

Please read this blog!  It is detrimental to the health of the devil and his demons!

At Stone Church, we say all the time, "invite someone to one of our Sunday morning services (or small groups)."
There are two specific Sunday morning events that we encourage you to invite a non-churched person to during the month of April.
April 13th - Friend Day.  We would ask you to invite a non-Christian friend to church that morning for one of our Worship Services.  There will be a special emphasis on welcoming new people as well as an altar call for salvation that morning.
April 20th - Easter.  If you and I can't get excited about Easter than our "wood is wet!"  We need the spark of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Easter is a great time to invite a friend to church.
Why is inviting someone to church so important? 
You and I both know that statistics can be boring, but listen to these.
When asked, "what brought you to this church?"
2% responded - advertisement
6% responded - an invitation by the pastor
6% responded - an organized evangelistic outreach program
86% responded - an invitation by a friend or family member.
Dr. Thom Rainer writes, "82% of the unchurched are at least somewhat likely to attend church if invited, but only 2% of church members invite an unchurched person to church.  98% of church-goers never extend an invitation in a given year."
That is very, very challenging to all of us.
Why don't we invite people to come to church?
You desire people to come to know God.
You know that people are lost without God and are choosing eternity in hell if they don't connect to Jesus.
You want your neighbors and your friends to come to God.
People want to be invited to church, and they will come if you do, and yet, you are not doing it.
Then why don't you invite them?
The number one reason is fear.
Survivor Eva Hart remembers the night, April 15, 1912, on which the Titanic plunged 12,000 feet to the Atlantic floor, some two hours and forty minutes after an iceberg tore a 300-foot gash in the starboard side:
"I saw all the horror of its sinking, and I heard, even more dreadful, the cries of drowning people."
Although twenty life-boats and rafts were launched-too few and only partly filled-most of the passengers ended up struggling in the icy seas while those in the boats waited a safe distance away.
Lifeboat No. 14 did row back to the scene after the unsinkable ship slipped from sight at 2:20 A.m. Alone, it chased cries in the darkness, seeking and saving a precious few. Incredibly, no other boat joined it.
Some were already overloaded, but in virtually every other boat, those already saved rowed their half-filled boats aimlessly in the night, listening to the cries of the lost. Each feared a crush of unknown swimmers would cling to their craft, eventually swamping it.
"I came to seek and to save the lost," our Savior said. And he commissioned us to do the same.
But we face a large obstacle: fear. While people drown in the treacherous waters around us, we are tempted to stay dry and make certain no one rocks the boat.
We might have someone who could be totally up for it right in front of us, practically beckoning us to invite them, and instead we hesitate and hem and haw and sometimes don't even get the words out of our mouths.
We are afraid of what they will think of us for going, fearful of what they might think of our church, fearful of what they will think of us if they come and don't like it. 
And - if we were candid with each other - some of those fears might come to pass - but it is still a fear of man, and that is not a valid reason for you and I to deny an opportunity to fulfill the mission God has called us to.
8 tips to get around the fear that prohibits you from inviting someone:
Number one:  Ask God for His heart for the lost.
This coming Easter, we will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus - and remember the death of Christ on the cross.  This shows us God's heart for the lost in his selfless sacrifice for you and I.
If your heart has become so hardened that you no longer care that your neighbor is estranged from Christ, ask for forgiveness.  Pray that God would give you a powerful love for those who do not know him.  Trust that he will give you that love through the Holy Spirit.  Put your words into action.
Many times we can begin to feel that our ministry participation in church relieves us from the responsibility that we all have as believers to bring them to Christ.  Everyone is called to invite.
Number two:  Pray for the boldness and courage of the Holy Spirit.
That fear that you are experiencing (the fear of inviting someone to church) is the work of the enemy.  Pray for deliverance from fear, pray for courage, and pray for boldness.  The Holy Spirit will meet your there.
Number three:  Pray for specific people. 
Pray that God would put five people on your heart to invite.  When he does, trust that he will give you the courage you just prayed for to be faithful in reaching out to people He put on  your heart.
Number four:  Remember your own calling.
Instead of focusing on your fear - focus on your faith and the grace of God in your life.  The more you focus on what God has done for you -  you will want to share that with others.  Listen to the stories of how God saved other Christians in your church and pray that God would give you the gift of watching those stories unfold in the lives of the five people you invite.
Number five:  Remember the gospel.
What is the primary way that people connect to Christ?  A verbal proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  People need to hear the gospel explained to believe.  How can they believe is they do not hear?  The goal of inviting someone to church is incredibly simple:  through the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, God will open blind eyes and a dead heart to believe.
Number six:  Trust in God's power to save.
I have seen God change people that I thought (in the natural) were unchangeable.  I have seen people changed by God in their darkest moments.  Please note:  If your non-Christian friend seems to have little interest in Christ that is not a sign that they never will.
Number seven:  Know that sharing the hope of eternity is the most loving thing you can do.
Inviting non-Christians to hear the gospel can challenge some of the lies they have built a false hope on.  It may feel wrong or awkward to challenge some of their beliefs, but it is the most loving thing you can do. Loving someone means caring about their eternal future, not just that one moment of awkwardness.
Number eight:  Know that it is not about you.
Nothing about God saving  your non-Christian friend depends on you.  Salvation is of the Lord, not the result of your clever arguments.  If you know that the Holy Spirit is the one who does all the work of awakening a dead heart, it takes the pressure off your abilities to get the words or the timing just right.  Our role is simply to be faithful.
As I write, I am reminded of Jesus' interaction with the woman at the well in John 4.  It didn't take long for the woman to realize that the man she was talking to was no ordinary Jewish teacher.  His prophetic insights and authoritative answers convinced her of His claim to be the Messiah.
So what did she do?  She immediately went to her town and brought a bunch of people to the well to hear Jesus for themselves.  This simple invitation resulted in His staying in their town for two days.  Many of the woman's friends declared in John 4:42, "Now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world."
That is the power of an invitation.  She didn't lecture on 12 reasons to believe that Jesus is the Christ.
She just said, "Come and see."
There are tons of ways to invite people to church.  Depending on your style, your personality, your age, your connections, your community, the possibilities are endless.  So, to get the ball rolling, I'm not too concerned about how you invite, I desire that you being inviting.
Will you join me in this God given mission?



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