7 out of 10 people would go to church if someone would invite them. Does that statistic seem a little unreal to you? It does to me. But maybe that is because I have built up this illusion in my mind that everyone who isn’t already part of a church community hates church. It isn’t hard to understand why that perception is there…loud people attract the most attention. When celebrities, public figures, or just people with a platform are openly critical of God and church it reinforces this thought in my mind that America is no longer “one nation under God” but an angry mob that wants to be left alone to do as they will. And if I try to speak up, they will trample me underfoot.
So when Pastor Danny said that 7 out of 10 people would be interested in attending church if someone just extended the invitation this last Sunday, I wondered (just a little) about it’s legitimacy. And then, as if God was eager to prove my doubts wrong, I woke up on Monday morning and began to experience the radical truth that people around me are looking for a way to God and even more importantly, He is actively pulling at their hearts to come.
First, I checked my phone and there were SEVERAL messages from people telling me that they had invited friends to Easter Sunday and they were coming! Awesome!
Second, I pulled into the office parking lot and a lady chases me down before I get to the door. She was waiting for someone and wanted to know if I could help her understand if she was in the right place. We got to talking.
“Are you a part of this church?” she asked while pointing to the sign above the door.
“Yes,” I nodded.
“Can I come? I mean, do you let anyone come?”
Again, I nodded as I handed her an Easter invite. (Does this count as inviting someone to Easter because technically she invited herself?)
Third, I drove through the coffee window. The barista was unusually chatty. “So, what are you doing today? Who is this other coffee for?” she pried.
“My husband. We work together.”
“Wow, that’s cool! What do you do?” she continued.
“We are pastors.”
I could feel her absorbing that information as she looked me up and down. (Do I not look like a pastor? What does she think pastors look like?) The conversation fell silent for a minute as she processed the information.
“Where?” she finally asked.
And I gave her all the details. She didn’t commit to coming but I won’t be surprised if I see her on Sunday.
It’s only Tuesday. We still have 4 more days until Easter. And I can’t help thinking….people are practically inviting themselves to Sun City Church (in some cases, they are) and it feels like something is at work beyond what I can see; as if God is drawing hearts to Himself, as if prayers are being answered, and miracles in the formation process. Once again, I come to the realization that this is His work that He has invited me into and not something I need to try to muster up in order to appear spiritual to anyone (including myself.)
God has been pursuing people for as long as the world has turned on it’s axis. He has been changing lives and re-writing stories ever since mankind needed Him to do so. Instead of leaving us to our own devices, He has come to the rescue again and again and again. Every day should be a celebration of His goodness and grace, but especially Easter…the anniversary of the extreme lengths He is willing to endure so that He can reach out His hand and lead our lost souls home. Easter is the greatest celebration of them all!
As I tucked my kids into bed, one of them asked, “How do we know if we are friends with God?”
“Well, it is like some of the other relationships in your life. You are friends with them when you care about them, spend time with them, and the relationship continues growing.
Before you were friends with Jesus it was like you were lost…like you were wandering out in the world and didn’t know where He was or how to find Him. Imagine how that would feel if you didn’t know where your mom or dad was and you were all alone. Now that you are friends with God because of Jesus, you can always be with Him. He is never going to leave you.
And did you know that every week since we started Sun City Church people have raised their hand and started a relationship with God. They aren’t alone anymore because we moved over here to start a church.”
My kids got really quiet as they thought about it. When each of them took turns to pray, they thanked God for finding them and becoming their friend. And they prayed that more people would be become friends with Him on Easter. I am confident that their child-like sincerity captured God’s attention as well as moving this mother’s heart to the point of tears.
This is why we do what we do. So new life happens.