Friday, September 28, 2012

Sharing Life rather than Inviting to Church

One of my favorite things that has shifted in these past years as God has helped us live out our faith is how I interact with friends & new friends.  I have always been an invite-er.  So many of my life experiences have shaped me into being a person that is not afraid to reach out to others (even though I still often feel nervous those first awkward interactions that you have to push through).  I will often reach out to strangers, meet new friends & then connect people to each other.  For many years, this skill was used to help market whatever church I was involved in.  Everywhere I went, my eyes were on the look out for who I could contact & invite "into our community" (to attend the Sunday service).   When I came to the revelation that it was not my job to market God's Church, I was a bit lost as to what I was supposed to be offering people.  We didn't have a regular gathering I could invite them to at that point and when we did, I felt like I needed a 30 minute sermon to explain to people what the vision for community was that I was offering them to be apart of.  

I have gradually learned these past 2.5 years that God is very trustworthy & very capable of managing His Church.  I simply love people & interact with them.  My goal is not to contact & invite any new person I see (to use a personal selling term) but to do whatever the Spirit leads me to do (which is different all the time).  Many times, I will be at a place where the Spirit leads me to reach out a hand and meet a new friend or include them in whatever I am doing. Many times, when I am at a public place with friends, I am friendly to strangers around us - but I don't pursue talking to them because I don't feel lead.  Sometimes during those times, a friend is desiring to talk to me or I can sense a friend needs encouragement.

Now that I have a different perspective on relationships, I very often come across other "inviters" still plugged into church as business, and I'm amazed at how insincere (rude?) they come across.  Sometimes, their laser focus on a new person across the way is so evident that they are completely missing the friendship right in from of them.   Many times, when those inviters find out that a person is un-interested in joining their church, or they already have a church home, they will just move on to somebody else.   Even today, I was talking to an Inviter (who I did want to get to know better) & I got the sense she was 'somewhere else'... I excused myself and I wasn't 5 steps away before she bee-lined over to a new person that had just arrived where we were.  I saw myself in her & had to confess & ask for forgiveness for how I might have treated people a similar way in the past.  This idea of "playing the numbers"... quantity over quality is extremely evident in our American marketplace - including our American church businesses.

I am so thankful for the freedom God has given my family in the way we relate as a Church & to the Church.  I am finding that He is so extremely capable of bringing relationships into our lives at His pace.  When I don't have seats to fill, then I'm not in a rush to fill them.  When I'm not in a rush, I can be better in tune with where & how He is leading me.  The truth is, this skill God has given me is now free to be used how HE desires and not just how I think it should be used.  With that freedom, I am able to focus in on what I have to offer others and not what I need from them (although I never saw it that way when I was "inviting them to church").

We are spread out so beautifully in jobs, neighborhoods, recreational activities, life stages ---- there are enough Christ followers to touch all people --- by relationship/true love at His pace & timing --- which is way more powerful, genuine and longer lasting than mass marketing.  When I become a walking "Jesus Manifesto" (to quote Frank Viola) - I can bring love into wherever I am.   God still uses me to meet new people very often & my eyes are always open to who He would have me reach a hand out to, but it feels different now.   My goal is not growth through attendance.   And whatever "success" is, is not dependent on me - so there is a lot of peace in that!  And just for the record, very rarely (never?) do I have to cut a person off to go meet a new friend.   I don't think that I've ever heard God say to me, "quick".. "don't miss this chance".... "now or never".... I could be wrong - but I just don't think I've ever heard that.  

That being said, in *all* my years as an inviter, I have found many people who are *not* looking to attend a church or who already attend one.  I rarely come across a person who doesn't desire or need encouragement, connection, friendship, a friendly smile, a listening ear, somebody to notice them..... where are all the Jesus Manifestos to offer this to them!?


Alan Knox said...


Thanks for this post. I love to hear how God is teaching and changing his children to care for others, especially in the way they interact with people. I can't wait to hear some of the stories you are able to tell as you share your life with others!


Randi Jo :) said...

Thanks for your encouragement Alan! :)

Randi Jo :) said...

Randi, so proud of the way you are living and being lead by the Spirit. Its so awesome to look around and see all the new friends in our lives and the meaningful relationships that are developing.

Love, Daddy B (hubby)

Henry said...

I love the part about God not being in a hurry. So often, I miss things because I'm just going too fast to notice.

Jesus was a master of being in the moment... so tuned in to the Father that he could follow leadings and take action when instructed to do so. His whole focus was being available for the Father to use and speak through Him.

Your correlations with marketing and business practice is SPOT ON. We often see people only in the light of what they can do for us or give to us. That's not Jesus at all. He was free. Free to enjoy and experience each moment to it's fullest. Why? Because He wasn't obsessing about a past conversation or a missed opportunity AND He wasn't worried about future expectations or missing the Father's voice. He was available to and dependent on the Father for every step.

AS always, thank you for sharing and challenging. Love!

Randi Jo :) said...

Well said, Noele.

I cherish your friendship, support, love & opinion <3

Dwight said...

I can't say I relate to the invitation part, but I appreciate what you said about the relationship part and realizing those were not your focus. My problem was almost the opposite: I kept my church life separate from my social life, and I didn't know how to be genuine about my relationship with Christ without sounding like an Inviter. So, I kept quiet. I still tend to be quiet. But, when the door to biblical discussion cracks open. Then I jump in and yell, "Ta Dah!" before trying to commence a heart to heart conversation. I have to learn how to tone down that entrance. ;-P

Randi Jo :) said...

Thank you for your comment! :) I appreciate your perspective too. God really made us all so different, didn't He? :) I need to tone down my entrances too however hehe. When the door opens even a little bit, I tend to slam it all the way open myself and run through with a party. I believe it would do a lot more good if I simply stayed on my side of the door & asked questions back first! :)