Posts Tagged ‘evangelism’

Advent Week 3: Welcome Mat

He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. (John 1:8)

A member of our church shared a story with me that I’ll never forget. She said that as Advent began this year, she and her family were feeling a little blah about the upcoming season. Same old, same old, and no “Christmas spirit,” she said. But, according to her, when she saw my daughter staring wide-mouthed at the Chrismon tree in the sanctuary, the spirit came back like a rushing wind. (Naturally, I teared up as she told me this!)

From the sanctuary Chrismon tree (Chrismon = a tree decorated with symbols of Christ)

The uninspired, uninterested feeling she described is nothing new. It has happened to many of us. Seasons come and go, with their accompanying church and family activities, and after a while the feeling just isn’t the same. We need something to give us new purpose and meaning.

I had my own moment of renewal and re-commitment this Advent as well. And mine was … evangelism.

Yes, evangelism! That word that befuddles and terrifies believers has become the “Christmas spirit” word for me.

Let me give you a little background on how I got so inspired. Most days, I’m actually a very poor evangelist, for a few reasons. None of these are legitimate, but they are real.

  • I want to be a friendly pastor and not a pushy one.
  • I don’t get out much beyond the church walls, church activities, and my college group.
  • And sometimes I just forget. Sometimes church is just a job for me, and that’s a terrible way to be a pastor. I think my colleagues and I fall into that rut from time to time, which is sad.

But evangelism is central to being a follower of Jesus! Part of our call as Christians is to get beyond ourselves, and lay out the welcome mat for someone else– to testify to the light, if you will. We are strengthened in faith as we tell others the Good News.

The call nudged at me after I read my seminary classmate Jeff McDonald’s article on why churches should work hard on bringing those holiday visitors into the fold. His argument made perfect sense to me: if people are already showing up, why not give them what they are looking for plus more? I shook my head and smiled as I read. We are so busy during Advent that we fail to see the real “reason for the season”: the face of Christ, showing up as a guest in our houses of worship.

So I invited some people to come to church! And they responded well! It almost bowled me over.

Jesus has laid out the welcome mat for you and me all over again. How will we respond?

Advertisements

let them

Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.’  (Matthew 19:14)

Yesterday at our church a man who had been homeless was baptized.

He gave his statement of faith to the congregation, and talked about how the love and acceptance he felt here enabled him to begin rebuilding his life.

The thing that astounds me is, he said that it all started when we “allowed” him to volunteer at our annual mission fundraiser.

Allowed?

Sure enough.  A couple in our congregation volunteer with a local homeless ministry, and they recruited some of the men being served by the ministry to watch over the items during our huge yard sale/bake sale day.  The men were astounded, I guess, that someone trusted them with this much responsibility.  Then these men started to attend worship here, and they were astounded again at how people shook their hands and greeted them, as if they were any other visitors.

Sometimes we church folks get so caught up in worry about the supposed decline of the church, that we neglect the very people who want to be here.  It may seem unbelievable, but there are still folks in our towns and neighborhoods who would receive the church with childlike amazement and delight.

Indeed, let them come.