By Alicia Mason, Volunteer NEXT Host at Connexus Church in Barrie
When it comes to inviting people to church, I've learned a lot from my 6 year old. She grabbed a handful of invite cards from Upstreet, put them in her backpack, and proceeded to hand them out to her grade 1 class. There wasn't a discussion of beliefs, or if church was attended, or which denominations were represented. It was a simple, earnest invitation to join her at one of her favourite places. And, to my surprise, a friend showed up.
Why am I constantly surprised when God uses my kids to teach me a lesson? ‘Childlike faith' is something I've struggled with since being a child myself. Kennedy didn't have any of that hesitation. She didn't stop to think “What if they don't like church?” or “What if they don't believe in Jesus?” She thought “Hey, church is fun and Jesus is cool, and my friends should see that too.”
I want that attitude, too. I love church, and I'd like my friends to know Jesus. And thankfully, it's the time of year where I've got a built-in reason to invite them, over and above just “Jesus is cool”. If this is something you struggle with too, here are a few ways to invite your unchurched friends to Christmas Eve..and most of them involve minimal effort on your part (so no excuses):
1. Share videos & links on Facebook: it's an easy one. Most of us are ‘liking' and ‘sharing' on social media anyhow (and maybe Mark Zuckerberg's algorithms will get that invite on the right screens).
2. Offer a ride: We've told our kids that if one of their friends wants to come to church, but a parent won't bring them/can't get them there, we'll pick them up. Transportation shouldn't be the only barrier to Jesus.
3. Buy the coffee: This is a standing offer for any of our friends who want to join us at church. If you're willing to meet us in the lobby, you can bet we'll have your Starbucks order waiting for you.
4. Watch online first: If your friends aren't sure they could actually step foot in a church without bursting into flames (an actual excuse I've been given), host a pre-Christmas Sunday morning ‘viewing party'. Put the message up on the TV, stay in your PJs, and show your friend that God isn't looking to smite them.
5. Keep inviting: I've worked up the courage in the past to invite a friend, only to realize they're out of town or already have plans on Christmas Eve. Don't let one ‘no' stop you from ever asking again. Maybe they're available for a service on the 23rd? Maybe they'd be interested in an exciting new series in the New Year.
And, if all else fails, just channel Kennedy. Grab a handful of invitations, march into your workplace, and hand them out. Because church is fun and Jesus is cool.