We’re in the season of the year where numerous events take place, where invitations are necessary. Even if the event is open-ended, there are still important details to be communicated, such as time, place, and dress, which a good invitation always does. Such details are especially important in situations where the majority of the guests are unfamiliar with these matters and their decision to attend requires those blanks getting filled in. Otherwise, they may just punt on the occasion and decide to stay at home.
I often think about these things when it comes to what we do at the church. For those of us who are familiar faces at MBBC, we take these matters for granted, because we know them by heart, and our assumption is that others will as well. But that’s not always the case. For one thing, our times of worship are untraditional (which actually is more and more common for churches today). For another thing, our facility is a bit of a challenge to navigate. (OK, it’s more of a maze). I couldn’t even tell you how many entry points there are on a Sunday morning, and I’m not entirely sure we have greeters at all of them. (But I’m certain we’re working on it). Lastly, dress codes today for worship are vastly different from what they were years ago, and as we all know, nothing puts off a person that showing up for something either overdressed or underdressed. So, all of these same details mean as much to what we do at the church as they do with any other activity.
How, then, should we respond? First, make yourself aware of these details so that when you have the opportunity, you can give the correct information. Essentially, they are: “Worship happens at 9am in the Sanctuary and 11am in Heritage Hall;” “the best entry points are the porte-cochere (covered driveway) on Montevallo Road or the one at the bottom of the driveway off Overbrook;” and “Come as you are.”
Beyond that, the most important thing you can do is to make sure that your invitation is warm and personal. Nothing beats receiving an invitation from someone for whom your presence really matters.
The reason I bring all of this to your attention is that these end of summer Sundays result in many new faces moving to our community, and along with those who have been here for a while but are open to a change, your nudging them in our direction may be all it takes for the Holy Spirit to do the rest. And ultimately, it is the Spirit’s work that causes guests to take a step in our direction. Then, it becomes the Spirit’s work in us that causes them to feel at home in our church.
Fortunately, I hear folk say all the time that MBBC is one of the warmest and friendliest churches they have ever attended. That makes me happy. It would be a terrible thing to say of a church that it was cold and unfriendly. That’s why with such a good place to invite people to come, extending invitations to MBBC ought to be as natural as breathing.
So, be alert to opportunities to invite people our way. Our church will be better for it and so will your witness. But even more importantly, so will the people who take us up on our invitations and come our way. They will come to know the joy that comes in doing what we have found to be the heartbeat of discipleship: “Loving God and living with grace and generosity.” Now, who could refuse an invitation as attractive as that?
“Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind!” (Ps. 66:5).