Summary: Adapted from material from Outreach, I preached this sermon the week before Back to Church Sunday to encourage members to invite their friends, relative, associates and neighbor to church.
Back To Church Sunday: Invite Someone!
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church
How many people do you know who “used to go” to church, but just don’t anymore? If you are like most folks, you probably know quite a few. Today there are 320 million people in America and as many as 80% of them identify themselves as Christians, yet only 20% actually attend church from week to week. Clearly, most people who don’t attend church did attend at one time. Many of these people might be willing to try church again, given the right opportunity.
National Back to Church Sunday is designed to be that opportunity—a special service dedicated to people who do not regularly attend church, a time when those who have left the church are encouraged to return and give it another try.
According to a couple studies (one by LifeWay research and one by Barna Research), 82% of unchurched say they would be at least somewhat likely to attend if invited and 25% say that they would be very likely to attend church if a friend would just take the time or make the effort to invite them! Think about that… that’s 1 in 4 of your friends who would be willing to come to church if you, not some stranger, invited them to go with you.
What an opportunity! The sad truth, though, is that only 2% of church members invite an unchurched person each year. I mean, what are we thinking!?
Do we not realize how powerful a simple invitation can be?
A couple weeks ago, while Ashley was at the Women of Faith conference, I had to take all the kids with me to a meeting at the church. Yeshua was hesitant, because he didn’t think there would be any other kids there, but there were. They played together and later that day, Ryan called and said that Aiden wanted to invite Yeshua over to the house to play. Yeshua exploded with excitement. He shouted, “Aiden wants to play with me!?”
That’s the power of a simple invitation.
Jesus knew the power of an invitation.
One day Jesus was out walking near the Jordan River and John the Baptist saw him coming in the distance. So John stood up, nudged his two followers, and point to Jesus saying, “Look, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:35 NIV). So the two disciples got up and started chasing after Jesus. When they finally caught up to him, they asked him where he was going.
Then Jesus said, “Come along and see for yourself” (John 1:39 MSG). That simple invitation changed their lives forever; they would never be the same. When you invite someone to church, or to a small group meeting, or an outreach event, or even over to your house for dinner—especially if this is someone who doesn’t know Jesus—it has the power to do the same thing; to change a person’s life forever.
In two weeks I’m going to begin preaching a series of messages building up to our Becoming a Contagious Christian seminar. I really hope that everyone here signs up for that weekend seminar, because this course is intended to help you learn how to share your faith effectively and comfortably with people that you interact with everyday. I’m going to give a little preview of what to expect, because the course identifies several different styles or methods of outreach, one of which is very simply the Invitational Style.
This approach doesn’t involve having an intellectual debate about the existence of God or value of organized religion. It doesn’t require you to outline the plan of salvation or explain the gospel message. All that’s required is that you ask one little question: “Would you like to come to church with me this Sunday?” That’s not hard, is it? We can do that. You can do that. Everyone can do that.
In order to help you ask this question more effectively, let me first give you some insight into why most people don’t attend anymore. Everyone’s reasons for leaving or returning to church are different, but let me share some of the most common reasons people give.
#1: TOO BUSY!
The number one reason people say they don’t come to church is that they are too busy. For some people, Sunday is their only day off and they want to have a day to rest. That’s not a bad thing. God commanded that we have a day of rest. God knew that we would ultimately live in this face-paced, high-tech, high-stress place we call the world. By the end of the work week most of us are brain-dead, sleep-deprived, and longing for some rest and relaxation.
What we need to remind people of is that their spiritual batteries need recharging just as much as their physical batteries do. And the truth is—we do what’s important to us. We all have the same number of days in the week and the same number of hours in a day. Jesus said this: “Seek first God's kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well” (Matthew 6:33 NCV). Going to church is kind of like going to the gym. Most people know it’s good for them, that they ought to do it, but they’re just lacking the motivation to fit it into their schedule. We need to remind them that, just like exercising regularly, the benefits of being a part of a healthy, well-balanced church far outweigh the sacrifices.