The Bible tells us in Matthew 20:18 “Therefore go and make disciples of all Nations….” Does that mean that each of us needs to leave our homes and set out across the globe to reach others for Christ? Well the answer is pretty obvious…. Not unless you feel called to do that. The reality is that our “Nation” is right here, it’s our families, our neighborhoods, and the other places we spend time. You may feel unprepared to make disciples on your own and that’s OK, we’re here to help with that.
I hope that at some point in your Journey with Freshwater you’ve come across our Purpose statement. We’ve painted it on the walls, published it on countless documents, and it’s always on our website.
“Freshwater exists to help REACH non-believing individuals to CONNECT them with other Christians to help them GROW in their faith and to challenge the growing to DISCOVER their ministry and HONOR God with their life.”
No matter where you are on your spiritual walk, you can help others to begin their journey with one easy step…….Extend the Invitation. REACH out and invite a friend.
The data hasn’t changed much for years; many Americans say they would attend church if someone would invite them. That someone should be you! I’m going to explain in a few easy steps how I have found tremendous success inviting others to get to know God at Freshwater.
1. Invite people you know. Sometimes it seems easier to ask a stranger when it comes to matters of faith because there is so little opportunity for rejection. The truth is, you will be far more likely to find willingness in the people who already know you and trust you. They will value your invitation based upon the relationship you already have. This applies whether you find a true non-believer or a lost believer.
2. Set the stage. When my wife Jamie and I invite others to church, we make it a date. Not just an open ended suggestion. We get ready for those days differently. I might dress up or down so that my guests feel comfortable on their first visit. I always remind new guest they are welcome to dress anyway they feel comfortable. They might feel awkward in a suit and tie, but we want them to come as they are.
3. Arrive early. If we have invited someone to Church, we will either pick them up or make arrangements to be at Freshwater before they arrive. Usually 30 minutes before the service is plenty of time. This gives us an opportunity to let others know we have VIP attenders so they will be able to help us ensure a great experience for our guests. One of the biggest mistakes we could make would be to fail to introduce our guest to the church properly. Often people are nervous the first time they visit and a familiar face can be the difference between a positive or negative experience.
4. Take a tour. Over the years at Freshwater I have given hundreds and hundreds of tours. If you want to minimize anxiety and maximize opportunity, make sure a new guest feels comfortable in the building. I always start with the bathrooms. As corny as it sounds, I love to brag about how big, comfortable and clean they are. I have always gotten a laugh when I say “At our first building, the slogan was “go before you come.” With our new facilities that is no longer a concern.
5. Lead them to a seat. If you’ve already forgotten the first four suggestions. Lock this one away. Never ask your guest where they want to sit. The experience all hinges on how comfortable your friends feel so eliminate the need for them to make unnecessary choices. I just say “let’s grab a seat” and then walk to an area large enough to accommodate our group. It is important that you sit with your guest’s even if that means your kids or spouse may need to take the seat in front of or behind you. Never leave them alone.
6. Don’t rush out the door. When the service is over, I stand up and then stand still. This gives my guests a chance to survey the crowd with the lights on. I can’t count the number of times someone said “oh the Jones are here.” This reinforces the fact that your guests have made a safe choice in visiting the church. Then, as the crowd begins to thin, I make a point to introduce my guests to at least two people. It’s so easy, just say, “Hey, this is my friend Patty, or my neighbor Joe” your Freshwater family won’t let you down here. This is also a great time to talk about the history of the church or the C&MA. If you need help with that find any staff person and they will be happy to do the talking.
7. Take it home. This does not mean you need to bring your friend to your house but Jamie and I always invite our guests to a follow up activity. This might be a meal at our house or a restaurant or a walk over to the city park. Taking your guests with you when you leave gives them an opportunity to share freely with you about their experience in a neutral setting. You want their feedback good or bad. It may help you identify or overcome their objections and it will always be valuable to the church to know what a visitor’s perception was. This time together can be one of the best moments to thank them for coming with you and invite them to come back again, and often, They WILL!
This all sounds pretty simple, right? Now imagine, if throughout the rest of this year you were able to REACH one new family and help them get CONNECTed at Freshwater, How amazing would that be? What if each of us was to invite one new family? Would we be living the Great Commission? You bet we would! So try out your new skill and let’s make some disciples. –Dan Sorensen
Are you willing to make a difference? Are you willing to give someone you know the gift of hope? Join me in inviting someone you know. Let’s live the great commission together!