Some helpful perspective when inviting someone to church for Easter

How does the church survive in a world that is not sympathetic to it? Last night I had another reminder of how alien it can feel to be a Christian and invite people to church. This morning I gained some helpful perspective on why all that is okay.

It's Easter season, and at Sanctuary we had some invitation cards produced. Rather than doing a mass mailing, we as a church are opting to pass them out person to person. It's challenging but more personal. Yesterday evening four of us met to walk around McKinley Park, praying and passing out invitation cards. One or another of us would walk up to random people and ask if they might be looking for a place to worship on Easter morning. Some of them were very happy to get the invitation. At least one parent seemed very interested in a supportive, spiritual community. Others gave us a polite, "Thanks but I'm not interested."

More than once I paused to look around the park. I have never seen that many people at McKinley walking, running, playing volleyball, and relaxing. The weather was perfect, and the park was alive with activity, as if all of Sacramento was there celebrating the arrival of spring. At one point we thanked God that he had inspired people to make parks.

Still, as I took it in, I couldn't help but feel very small as we strolled along praying and talking to someone here and there. It was as if the world was rolling along like a wide and powerful river, and we were a tiny breath making almost imperceptible ripples on its surface. I wondered if anyone would respond to the invitations we were handing out. It seemed like such a stretch.

I wouldn't be surprised if we all feel like that sometimes -- very small and powerless against the great God-resistant currents in our cities, schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, sports teams, and host cultures.

This morning I read some comments in a book by Chuck Swindoll that provided key reminders and fresh hope. He was writing about the time when Jesus was talking with his disciples, and he asked them who they thought he was. Simon (Peter) said, "You are the Messiah, the son of the living God." Jesus replied, 
"Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." (Matthew 16:17-18)
Swindoll takes Jesus to be saying this:
The church would have staying power. Against all odds, it would prevail. Not even the adversary would overpower it. I will build my church. (The Church Awakening, 11)
Jesus is responsible for the success of his church and its mission. Of course, Swindoll reminds readers that Jesus was talking about his church universal not an individual, local church like Sanctuary. But the principle applies in this way: we don't have to worry about whether our local churches will grow. Jesus is responsible for growing his church. We work for the mission, yes. And not all local churches grow. But it's not for Christians to worry even when it feels like we are but a breath on a wide and powerful river. We can go on inviting and blessing people without all the pressure of "needing" them to say yes.


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