Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Why We Don't Invite, Part 1

Natural result of loss of invitation. 

When I drive through my town I see half a dozen churches for sale. Buildings that once housed vital ministries, whose halls clamored with children singing songs and altars filled with God-seeking people offering heart-felt prayers are not virtually empty. What happened? One cause is that some where along the path of the life-cycle of the church the anchor members, those who have weathered the storm for the long haul, have quit inviting others to worship with them. Three reasons come immediately to mind as to why our people don’t invite: we don’t believe in the leadership; we don’t believe in the mission; we don’t know anyone who is not, at least nominally, “Christian.”

We don’t believe in the leadership. Ouch. This reason hits right where it hurts. Amidst trying to design a myriad of effectiveness matrices and forcing clergy accountability, we must realize that the first reason people do not invite others into their churches is a failure of confidence in the leadership of the church. Institutions of long memories, it doesn’t even have to be a failure to trust the current leader, it could be a situation long past that lingers in the subconscious of the membership. Once an organization has lost trust in the leadership once, the rebuilding of that trust can take years, even decades. Unfortunately with the aging population in many of our churches we don’t have decades, we may not even have “years.” We are the leaders of the church must model vulnerability and authenticity. That means some will take cheap shots at you, some will blame you for their issues and insecurities, but that is the price of leadership. We also, as leaders, must lead and be constantly inviting people ourselves. If you haven’t invited somebody to worship this week, don’t expect any of your worshippers to do so.

WE don’t believe in the mission. Whether we disregard the “great commission” to go into all the world, or we don’t really believe people are headed to a Christ-less eternity, or we don’t believe in their local church to address either of the other two. If people do not believe in the mission of the church, we won’t invite. Inviting somebody to church is risky and if you don’t believe they really need Jesus or really need to be involved in Christian community there is no reason to take the risk.

We don’t know anyone who is not “Christian.” The longer you are a Christian, the more likely it is that all of your friends are Christian. It is not that we don’t interact with those outside the faith in their daily life, we just no longer “see” them or spend any time with them. We live in a Christian bubble, self-contained and comfortable. Let’s face it, we tend to associate most closely with people who are like us and who affirm us. We disassociate with anyone who disagrees with us or has a different worldview.

How do we rebuild trust? How do we refine and refuel the mission of the Church so people are re-engaged? How do we help the “see” the people around them that need to hear the Story? A few insights will be offered in the next blog but I’d also like to hear yours.

Consumed by the Call,

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