A Word from Denver & PLI

Romans 12:1-2

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

 

I am in Denver with Diane to lead a group of pastors and their spouses through a leadership training and formation process called, “Leadership From Within”. This experience helps them to embrace who they are in Christ, how they have been shaped by people, experiences, and events in their past, and how God made them in his providential goodness. They relate that to their gifts and abilities, and overlay that with the context of their current ministry/family/life situation. All this in order to be an authentic, effective, humble, confident, focused leader—all for the sake of the mission of God. The experience proves to be one of the most impactful experiences for both the wives and pastors.

A great challenge for me and many pastors is that of conforming to others’ expectations and our assumptions of what people expect of us in any given situation.  The calling for a true leader of God is to follow where he leads, being part of what he is doing in the lives of others, and leveraging the “authentic Jesus-follower” we are in helping others embrace God’s grace, love, and salvation. To that end an article by Jock Ficken, PLI Executive Leader offers some encouragement and insights about inviting someone to church.

Ivy-covered wall of building next to Magdeburg Cathedral

Ivy-covered wall of building next to Magdeburg (Germany) Cathedral | August 2017

By Jock Ficken | November 8, 2017

Over the last several decades, churches that experienced steady or rapid growth and people coming to faith in Jesus had congregational members who joyfully invited their friends, family, and neighbors to come to church.
Several things were essential:

  • People had relationships with people who didn’t attend a church.
  • They were motivated by the love of Jesus and their love of others.
  • They felt safe that it would be a good experience for their friends.

So, does it still work to employ an “invite your friends and neighbors to church” strategy?

YES … and NO!

While all of the above is still true–relationships, love, good experience–if it’s simply “come to church” as a destination or as an event, then that strategy probably doesn’t work.

Here’s what works, and here’s the challenge:

People are much more likely to respond to the invitation to come to church when it’s part of a larger invitation into your life.

“And I’d like to invite you to church because church is a part of my life.”

It’s a lot about the relationship, not just the destination!

That makes sense, right, in our Post-Christendom culture?

The priority is “belonging” in relationship, with no manipulative agenda (yes you care about them and not what you can get them to do), sometimes long before “believing” is ever on the table.

There are a couple of challenges with this:

  • We’re busy. Life is complicated. It’s a big step to add people into our lives who might make our own lives busier or more complicated.
  • It’s easy to assimilate a self-centered spirit and not really care about the well-being (spiritual and otherwise) of others. Sad…but true!
  • The majority in most communities have not experienced the church as good news in their lives, and they’re reluctant. People will have more initial success with simply…
    • Listening to their story,
    • Sharing their own story…
    • and that obviously includes God’s story.

It would seem appropriate to reference the Good Samaritan OR Jesus sending the 12 or the 72 disciples OR The Apostle Paul in Ephesus or Athens.

Here’s what comes to mind…when I simply make myself available to people in my life–and I have the same hurdles you do–I usually return with joy (Luke 10:17).
Interesting…Joy!

Jock Ficken
Rev. Dr. Jock Ficken

That seems to be very much what it means to be your “genuine Jesus-following self” which puts you in a position for God to have an impact in others’ lives through you.

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