July 26, 2010 by Mitch
Filed under Articles on Christian Living Articles on Church Growth Articles on Evangelism Articles on Faith Articles on Real Christianity Articles on Relationships Blog Bulletin Articles Study on Christian Living
What an amazing and wonderful picture the totality of the sacrificial offering was. Read more
Have you ever noticed that in John 4 the apostles went into Sychar, came back out to Jesus, and not one single person started following Jesus. Yet, the Samaritan woman went into the exact same city and many of the Samaritans came out to see Jesus. Many of those came out began to believe in Jesus (John 4:39-42).
Why did this happen? I see two reasons. The first is a shortcoming on the part of the apostles and the second was an advantage on the part of the Samaritan woman.
First, the apostles’ shortcoming: The apostles were on a mission to get food for Jesus (John 4:8). Their minds were distracted from their real work by the every day issues of life. They had not yet grown to Jesus’ level whose food was to do the will of His Father (John 4:34). They let the need for food distract them from the need to tell people about Jesus.
Second, the Samaritan woman’s advantage: While the apostles certainly had a personal shortcoming, even if they had overcome that, they would not likely have had the same impact the woman did. Why? Because they would have been talking to people we might call “cold contacts.” They did not have any warm connections with the people of Sychar. However, the woman did. She had friends among them and connections. She already had a relationship with the people. Thus, when she spoke to them, they were much more likely to listen. And listen they did (John 4:39-42).
What do we learn from this? First, when it comes to evangelism, we need to start where we have the greatest advantage. We need to start with the people we know and have a relationship with. I know we are often scared those very people may reject us. However, these are the people most likely to have noticed the change in our lives. These are the people most likely to be intrigued by how we live. They are the people most likely to listen to anything we have to say. Obviously, not everyone is going to listen, but some of them will.
Second, this means you have an advantage over the preacher. In many cases, the local preacher is working to manufacture relationships in the community in order to have opportunities to teach. You already have them. You have contact and relationships with people the preacher will never meet. Take advantage of that contact, start inviting them.
Third, while we obviously want to rely on warm connections more than cold contacts, let’s not get so distracted by our daily life that we forget to tell people about Jesus. Maybe we don’t know the person. Maybe we don’t have much opportunity to build a relationship with them. However, for all we know our one little mention of Christ and His church is the only one they’ll get. Let’s make sure we tell them about Jesus and His church.
Last week, we started a push for evangelism and inviting. Let’s not stop because the special day has passed. Let’s keep building the momentum.
In just 14 days we are having our huge evangelism push as we try to invite as many people as possible to worship with us and hear a lesson that will help us all learn to lean on the Lord as we face difficult times. The sermon is entitled “If You Want to Win Life’s Lottery, You’ve Got to Lean on the Lord.”
If you’re following our website, on Tuesday you learned that over half of Americans claim they would visit a church if they received a personal invitation. That is part of why this kind of effort is really important.
We’ve really pushed the invitations this week. If you’re like me, you’ve gone through the obvious and are now trying to figure out who else you can invite. I thought it would be a great time for us to consider the obvious and not so obvious folks we might invite.
- a spouse who doesn’t attend
- children who have fallen away
- parents who never obeyed the gospel
- siblings who aren’t Christians or aren’t faithful
- classmates (teenagers you can invite folks too)
- prodigals who have gone out into the world
- bank tellers
- waiters and waitresses
- checkout clerks at Wal-Mart, etc.
- gas station clerks
- baseball/softball/volleyball/soccer team and coaches
- Facebook and MySpace friends
- Cracker Barrel hostesses
- club members (Lion’s, Kiwanis, Rotary, etc.)
- PTA/PTO members
- meat counter lady/guy
- physical therapist
- daycare provider
- UPS or FedEx guy
The fields are white for harvest. Let’s pray the Lord will send forth workers and inviters.
The number one piece of advice I took away from our meeting with Harold Comer was about invitations. Let’s face it. In our day and age, the number one prospect for salvation we run into are those who come check out what we’re doing as a congregation. However, like so many things, folks won’t check us out unless they know they can. That is where invitations come in.
Harold repeatedly referred to Revelation 22:17. “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” I am fully aware John was not speaking directly of inviting people to our assemblies and classes. He was talking about an invitation to drink from the water of life through Jesus Christ. However, one effective way to get to that invitation is to invite folks to hear the Word of Life taught and preached in our classes and assemblies. One effective way to get to that invitation is to invite folks to witness us congregationally worship the God of life in our assemblies.
Harold went through some of the statistics pretty quickly. Maybe you missed them. Obviously, for any one individual these numbers may not be exactly accurate. But, like insurance actuary tables, over the big picture this is how it works. Out of every 20 invitations, 1 person will attend. That person will often bring a friend or family member. That means for every 100 invitations, we should have 10 guests. Out of those 10 guests, 4 will return. Out of those 4, 1 will eventually surrender his/her life to Jesus. That means it takes 100 invitations to find the one real prospect. There’s only one thing for it—we’ve got to be inviting.
Harold encouraged us to write out some invitations. I took that to heart and discovered it is indeed a great practice. It made me think of some very specific kinds of individuals I meet regularly and how I can invite them. Consider two examples.
For a nurse: I really appreciate the way you care for brother/sister _________. It means a lot to me and our church family to have conscientious workers like you caring for our physical needs. If we can ever return the favor and help care for your spiritual needs, please, don’t hesitate to visit us at the Franklin Church of Christ.
For a waiter/waitress: I really appreciate how diligently you’ve served us today. It’s a tough job and you did it very well. If we can ever be of service to you on a spiritual level, please, visit us at the Franklin Church of Christ.
Think of someone to invite this week. Then write out the invitation ahead of time and be prepared the next time you see them.
I would love to have a thousand or ten thousand people working with the Franklin Church. However, as we work on congregational growth, we have to keep reminding ourselves what is most important. We are not trying to get people sitting in our pews. We are trying to get people to heaven.
Sometimes I fear churches, elders and preachers forget that these days. Many are so intent to increase their attendance numbers they become willing to shortcut the Scriptures. In fact, in the past two weeks I have witnessed two such approaches. I was saddened as I read why a nearby local congregation is going to start blending instrumental music with their acappella singing. They felt they would keep more of their young people and appeal to more people in the community if they started adding instrumental music to their congregational periods of worship and edification.
The second was a sermon in which the leadership of a local congregation expressed that they would accept folks into full fellowship who had been baptized for reasons other than the remission of sins, those who had been sprinkled even as infants and those who had not been baptized at all. They declared they would continue to teach baptism, but they didn’t want anyone to be turned away from their fellowship just because they didn’t agree with the church’s supposed position on baptism. Once again, we witness more concern for having people in the pew than for helping people go to heaven and all done in the name of love and reconciliation.
It is almost as if some churches have the idea if they just say someone is a member of their congregation then they must be going to heaven. However, we need to remember John 3:5: “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (ESV). If one is not actually reborn through a believer’s baptism, that one will not enter the kingdom of heaven. We may grant them membership into the congregation, but they will not be saved just because they sit with us on Sundays.
According to Matthew 7:13-14, we are walking a narrow way. Few will actually want to enter the gate Jesus has opened or walk the path Jesus has trod. We need to be more concerned about getting people on that path than just trying to convince them to “go to church” with us. Otherwise, not only will we save no one, we will in turn lose our salvation. Those who teach and support gospels other than Jesus’ one true gospel are accursed (Galatians 1:8-9).
Let us not be satisfied with more people sitting in our pews. Rather, let us not be satisfied until we are helping more people actually glorify God His way and go to heaven.