We’re less than two weeks away from Christmas Eve services. Here are five reasons why we are encouraging everyone at Gateway to invite their friends.
1. It will be good for your soul.
The key reason we don’t invite our friends to church is fear. This fear can manifest in a variety of different ways: fear they might reject us, fear they will have a bad experience, fear that it will make our relationship awkward later, or fear that the conversation will lead to questions that we don’t know the answers to. All of those things might happen!
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” – Franklin Roosevelt
Have you thought about how inviting others is a healthy spiritual discipline? Moving beyond our comfort zones is one of the ways we learn to trust God. Paul in multiple places calls us to “practice” following after God boldly (1 Tim 4:15, Phil 4:9) and Jesus calls us to fear God and not man (Mat 10:28). The act of saying “no” to our fear and saying “yes” to God will enrich your soul.
2. They want you to invite them.
In 2014 Barna drew from over 20 national surveys about how open non-church attendees were to going to a church if a friend invited them. The numbers were interesting: 20% of people “expressed strong interest” in attending and 47% were “willing”! The research group concluded that “an invitation from a friend is the top-rated way churches can establish connections with the unchurched.”
20% of unchurched people are literally waiting for an invitation from one of their friends to go to church – God’s Spirit is always working ahead of you in the lives of the people you invite. Even if 4 out of 5 people say no, if everyone at Gateway invited one person that would be about 250 guests at our Christmas Eve services!
One key here: people are significantly more willing to go to church with a friend; trying something new with a gracious guide is less intimidating than going for it alone. God has sovereignly placed you in the life of people so that you can love them as they “feel their way towards God” (Acts 17:26-27).
3. They Need the Church
Leslie Newbigin said, “How is it possible that the gospel should be credible, that people should come to believe that the power which has the last word in human affairs is represented by a man hanging on a cross? [The key argument for the credibility of the gospel is] a congregation of men and women who believe it and live by it.”
God’s people living by faith in a loving community is the greatest apologetic for the gospel of Jesus who himself said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Tim Chester observed that many unchurched people “are often attracted to the Christian community before they are attracted to the Christian message.” This is consistent with a robust understanding of evangelism which isn’t just a call to believe the gospel, but is also a invitation to become a part of God’s covenant people.
4. They Need the Gospel
Have you considered the eternal implications that a simple invitation might carry? “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). The ‘word of Christ’ is the gospel and the gospel will surely be preached Christmas Eve!
The need to hear the gospel is the most obvious reason to invite people, but we absolutely cannot let it go unsaid that we want all people everywhere to repent and believe in the good news of Jesus. This is what Paul hopes for in 1 Corinthians 14:24 – that, in hearing the preached prophetic word, non-Christians who enter into the Christian assembly will be humbled and “will worship God and declare that God is really among [the church].”
5. Everybody’s doing it!
People who are guests at a church are often self-conscious and feel like they will “stick out” as being obviously new. Because Christmas Eve is such a major day for guests, the “I will stick out factor” is minimized as they will be one-among-many people who are trying out the church.
Even in inviting your friends, saying “we are expecting a lot of guests” will help them see they are not only welcome, but they are prepared for and valued by the church. This only works if we are all committed to inviting people! Major holidays like Christmas Eve and Easter are above-and-beyond opportunities for us to see the day through lens of hospitality.
See you there!
We’ll have four identical, family-friendly services at 10:00am, 11:30am, 1:00pm and 2:30pm. More details are available here.