Here at Mercy Church, we’ve got four worship services this weekend. One Good Friday service at 6:30pm and three Easter Sunday services at 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00am. While these are great opportunities to invite someone, maybe you feel like I often do where turning the conversation to religion feels like making a relational leap off the edge of a cliff that you aren’t sure will land your friendship/acquaintance on the rocks below or safely onto the other side of real friendship. The combination of risking the future of the relationship plus fear of rejection of your invite makes those butterflies in your stomach turn into pterodactyls that make you step off the ledge when the moment comes. Here are a couple of things to remember that I hope will help you “jump” when the moment comes.
- Most people aren’t afraid of or offended by your Christian faith. According to a Rasmussen poll that came out last Easter, 77% of Americans said they believed Jesus actually rose from the dead. That seems pretty high, at least to me. But even if we look at that poll with a skeptical eye, it shows us the average person doesn’t exactly react like Bill Maher when it comes to Christianity. Yesterday I had the chance to invite a guy I’ve gotten to know a little at our local coffee shop. He has told me he isn’t religious and doesn’t do the church thing. Yesterday I said to him “Hey I know you said you aren’t into religion, but if there was ever a weekend to check out Christianity, this is it. I’d love for you to be my guest at our church this weekend.” I gave him an Easter Square (our accidental label for our inviter cards) and he thanked me for the invite and we continued talking. He wasn’t offended, and most likely your friend won’t be either when you invite them.
- Many people just need a nudge. I can’t tell you how many people I talk to who say something like “you know man, I really should get around to my faith. I know its a big deal I just don’t make time for it.” Yes, underneath this they are describing a lack of value in Christ but that is to be expected by people who aren’t building their life on their faith. A simple “hey man, now is the time, come with me” may go a long way! In fact, I met a guy this past weekend who was given a nudge by a colleague to come to church and God really used it in a big way in his life, so much so that he came to talk to me after the service about it. That was one invite from a guy he respects but isn’t even that close to yet. Just a nudge. Who has God put in your lane that may just need a nudge?
- Every relationship has a point of no return. Our college and missions director, Scott Urbanek, taught me this one. At some point in every relationship, it becomes odd that you haven’t brought up your faith if it is so important to you. Once you pass that point, you start to feel like the relationship is at risk if you introduce the gospel. Instead of finding ourselves in this high-risk situation, as Christians we should be open early about our hope in Christ. Not aggressively of course, but openly just as we would about anything else that matters a great deal to us. So go ahead and put your faith out there now while the relationship is still wet cement and let it be a part of your friendship. An easter invite in that kind of friendship is actually a pretty low-risk, maybe even expected, step. I will say, the point of no return is a mindset, not an insurmountable truth. God is bigger than you going back and bringing your faith into even the oldest of your relationships. If you are thinking “well I’ve known this person for years I can’t introduce faith now…” The only thing worse than introducing your faith to them now is waiting until tomorrow. To put it real simple: God has got you and this is what he does. You will be ok.
- The Gospel is Worth It. This is really the only thing our hearts should need to be reminded of right? If you and some friends were in a cave and the entrance collapsed, you’d all be in real trouble. If you all split up to search for a way out and you were the one who heard rescuers digging on the other side of the wall…would you sit there quietly while your friends wandered further into the darkness? NO! You’d shout to them! You’d run after them screaming GUYS I HEAR THEM! GUYS THE RESCUERS ARE THIS WAY! That is basically what God calls Christians to be. We are the ones who have been rescued by God and now get to call others to that same salvation, to follow you as you are rescued out of the darkness of your sin. The gospel is worth risking your relationship. And no one rescued from a cave ever came out angry at the one who showed them the way out.
So take the small step this Easter and invite. Whatever church you go to, wherever you are…invite! Take a step. I doubt it will be as scary as you think and you never know how big of a difference that invite could make.