Pastor's Note | Sunday, May 24th
Sri Lankan priest D.T. Niles once noted that "Evangelism is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread." How true that is! In recent weeks, under the leadership of Elder Sue Nelson-Brown, we have pioneered a renewed emphasis in evangelism - learning how we can most effectively tell others where we’ve found Jesus, the Bread of Life!
Sue and twenty other covenant partners are currently engaged in weekly evangelism training - being equipped to share the gospel with those outside our doors. It is my hope and prayer that 100% of our community go through this training by June 2016! Sue and I are working together toward that goal.
And yet, for a moment here, I’d like to invite us to think about welcoming visitors on Sunday mornings - a kind of "on campus evangelism."
Thom Rainer, author and president/CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources recently wrote on Seven Things Church Members Should Say to Guests in a Worship Service. Here they are:
- "Thank you for being here." It’s just that basic. I have heard from numerous church guests who returned because they were simply told “thank you.”
- "Let me help you with that." If you see someone struggling with umbrellas, young children, diaper bags, purses, and other items, a gesture to hold something for them is a huge positive. Of course, this comment is appropriate for member to member as well.
- "Please take my seat." I actually heard that comment twice in a church where I was speaking in the Nashville area. The first comment came from a member to a young family of five who were trying to find a place to sit together.
- "Here is my email address. Please let me know if I can help in any way." Of course, this comment must be used with discretion, but it can be a hugely positive message to a guest.
- "Can I show you where you need to go?" Even in smaller churches, guests will not know where to find the nursery, restrooms, and small group meeting areas. You can usually tell when a guest does not know where he or she is to go.
- "Let me introduce you to ___________." The return rate of guests is always higher if they meet other people. A church member may have the opportunity to introduce the guest to the pastor, other church staff, and other members of the church.
- "Would you join us for lunch?" I saved this question for last for two reasons. First, the situation must obviously be appropriate before you offer the invitation. Second, I have seen this approach have the highest guest return rate of any one factor. What if your church members sought to invite different guests 6 to 12 times a year? The burden would not be great; but the impact would be huge.
What do you think!? Could we begin to practice some of these seven things when we notice a new person joining us in worship? I think we can - and I think they just might help fellow worshippers find the Bread!