"The Impact of an Invitation"

The Pastor's Windshield for Sunday, July 10, 2022

It feels good to be invited to something. Wouldn’t you agree? It means a lot when someone takes the time to invite you over for a meal they’ve prepared. It’s fun to be invited to go watch a game together or to enjoy a concert or other social outing. For many of you, there was probably a time when you received an invitation to visit St. Matthew or previous churches that you attended. Without that invitation, your journey of faith perhaps would have unfolded differently.

A personal invitation can go a long way! We see a great example of an inviting approach by one of Jesus’ first disciples, Philip. John tells us about Philip in John 1:43-51. Jesus personally invited Philip to follow Him. Philip did! And one of the concrete ways that Philip followed Jesus was by immediately inviting his friend Nathaniel to join him. When Nathaniel voiced skepticism about Jesus of Nazareth, Philip didn’t try to argue with his friend. He simply extended the invitation: “Come and see” (John 1:46). Apparently, the invitation made an impact! Nathaniel (a.k.a Bartholomew) is numbered among Jesus’ original 12 disciples in all four Gospel books of the Bible.

Like Philip, we can invite our friends and loved ones to come and see Jesus. We do this by sharing the hope that we have because of Jesus, taking care to do so in a gentle and respectful way (1 Peter 3:15). We can invite loved ones to see Jesus by inviting them to come to worship and Bible class with us. For some folks, it may be better to first invite them to a more informal setting such as a meal or a service event. As we go forward together in ministry, there will be more opportunities like these. If there are times when it might be helpful for me to extend a more “pastoral” invitation to someone, please let me know. 

There are many strategies that churches employ to reach their communities and neighbors. Churches utilize technology, direct mail, large-scale events, and other means to attract visitors. However, research indicates that one of the simplest outreach strategies is still the best. A personal invitation from a trusted friend, family member or neighbor still carries more weight than other attempts of making those connections. 

I encourage you to be a modern-day Philip! Consider who you can invite to “come and see”! Invite them to come and see Jesus with you. Invite them to come and see who we are as a church and what we believe and teach. Invite them to join you on the journey of walking with our Savior Jesus!

“Gifts” for Our Guests

Once the folks we’ve invited take the step of joining us at church, then what? What are some of the best gifts you can give guests when they visit our church? What follows are some ideas that I’ve borrowed and adapted from a pastor friend from South Dakota, Rev. Scott Sailer. Here are four simple “gifts” that we can offer to guests and visitors:

The Gift of a Close Parking Spot - if you are able-bodied, consider parking further from the church entrance to open more close parking spots for visitors, elderly worshippers, or families with young children.

The Gift of a Place to Sit – if you’re able, try sitting at the center of your pew in church so that those arriving after you can find a spot at either end of the pew.

The Gift of Helpfulness - help someone find their place in the order of service, lend a hand to young parents with their children, point someone in the right direction to find restrooms, the church nursery, etc.

The Gift of Warmth - greet others with a smile, introduce yourself by name, and ask for the guest’s name and make a point to remember it. If you forget, just ask them to remind you of their name.

Those gifts don’t cost much – only a moment of your time or a bit of extra thought and attention, but they can make a big difference. God bless you as you invite others to come and see Jesus and as you take these little steps to help them feel welcome and valued in our midst!

Peace in Christ,

                  Pastor Kory Janneke