+Bishop Jon V. Anderson
Many years ago, someone invited me into conversation. That conversation, where he was curious about who I am, eventually led us to conversations about my faith. I was disengaged from any faith community because of a change in my life. My new friend invited me to come with him to worship. It changed my life. He invited me to go because he said the services were a place that he was reminded of God’s love for him and others. He invited me because of the community that gathered. He invited me because he found worship helped keep him centered in the intensity of college life. Who did God use to invite you or how did God call you deeper into Jesus and the community that carries his name?
In the coming days, I invite you to pray that God would open opportunities for you and members of your congregation to invite people to grow deeper into the faith, hope and love we know in Jesus.
In the ELCA Evangelism Strategy we noted that deepening our capacity to invite and share the Good News begins with prayer. How could you invite your congregation into prayer that your community of faith might become more hospitable? How could you encourage your people to make a point of being just a little bolder about being curious about people’s lives and invite people into the community that carries Jesus name? Don’t shame them. Don’t make them afraid. Pray for them and encourage them.
This is a season when inviting people into a relationship with Jesus and the community that bears his name is easier. There are lots of open doorways. Help people see that their invitations can take many forms.
- Inviting people so they might feel closer to God.
- Inviting people to join you at worship. What makes worship worth attending for you?
- Inviting people to join you in service. God makes us long to help our neighbors in meaningful ways.
- Inviting people to join you in fellowship or meals. We long for deep and authentic community and friends.
- Inviting people to join you in learning about life, themselves, God, the Christian tradition or the Bible.
Inviting might be for the sake of their kids and Jesus mostly taught adults so it could also help them in their spiritual lives.
What would you add?
I have just completed a book called Change or Die by Alan Deutschman. He argues that to change and thrive we need to work on three things.
Healthy evangelizing begins with a relationship with God and a relationship that opens the possibility of an invitation. Healthy evangelizing is not afraid to hear a “No” or no response. It is encouraging and keeps inviting. Reframe what you are inviting people into. It is first a deeper relationship with God, and secondly with the community of people who gathering in Christ’s name.
My grandson asked me the other day, “Why do you like to study God?” He is four. I found it interesting. My life is not about the church, it is about inviting people into a relationship with God, growing deeper in faith, hope and love. It is about reframing my own life and being transformed as I follow Jesus into the mission field of today.
Join me in praying and inviting.
A healthy congregation has clear values and practices at the core of its identity. It has a shared life in a community where people of faith care for one another, share stories of God’s work in their lives, pray for one another, and cultivate a meaningful and life-giving relationship with the world around them. They have a sense that God is alive and at work among them and through them. They aren’t sitting back waiting for new people to attend—they are actively engaging a life of faithful service and discipleship.
-Dave Daubert – Invitational Evangelizing