I did it! I actually invited an unchurched person to Easter worship. There is a mixed blessing in being a pastor. On the one hand, we have the gift and joy of being able to work day in and day our with wonderful, amazing brothers and sisters in Christ. Much of what I do involves interacting with people who already know Jesus. The challenging aspect of that is I seem to have fewer opportunities than many people to engage those who do not yet know Jesus.
But I know I am not alone in that. In my experience, the longer any of us are part of a great church family, the more that becomes our social circle. It is great to have good friends who share our beliefs and values, with whom we can do life. But if we are not careful we may wake up one day and realize that we have no unchurched friends.
I came to the conclusion a number of years ago that if I was going to ever have the opportunity to share Jesus with people who do not yet know him, I would have to intentionally develop some new relationships.
I will confess to you that as an introvert this is not easy for me. I have always envied those people who seem to be able to comfortably initiate conversations wherever they go in a way that just draws people in. It's not a natural gift for me, but because I love people and want to see everyone come to know Jesus, I'm determined to develop relationships outside of my church circle.
Is anyone with me? Does anyone else struggle with this? One of the ways I try to develop these relationship is by what I might call marketplace outreach. In other words, I try to use the same garage, shop at the same stores, eat at the same restaurants in a way that opens the opportunity to build relationships.
This brings me to my invitation. While eating at a restaurant we often frequent, being served by the person whose section we always sit in, I asked the question. "So, what are you doing for Easter?" She shared a bit of her plans, which lead to us sharing our plans, which of course included Easter worship. At that point it seemed like the most natural thing to say was "Why don't you join us for Easter worship. I think you would really enjoy it."
I was excited, and a little surprised, when she replied "That would be great. I would really love to do that." So we told her the times of services and where we are located. As we were leaving, I wrote the times and address on a piece of paper for her. The whole experience reinforced for me that it is not as hard as it sometimes seems (even to an introvert) to extend an invitation.
I don't know for sure that she will come on Easter, but I do know that we have opened a door. Even if it is not this Sunday, I believe that one day she will attend worship. When she does, she will be warmly greeted, she will experience engaging worship and she will hear the Gospel. I believe that one day soon, the angels in Heaven will rejoice over her as she opens her heart to Jesus.
Have you invited anyone for Easter yet? There is still time. Don't forget we have our Maundy Thursday service at our Sandown campus at 6:30 p.m. Good Friday service is at our Amesbury Campus at 7:00 p.m. And if you are not able to make Easter worship on Sunday morning, we are also offering a full Easter worship on Saturday at 5:00 p.m at our Plaistow Campus.