A seminary friend and colleague, Rev. F. Lee McDermott, is pastor of yoked churches in Fayette County, PA. He has created a blog with a wide variety of sermon notes, stories and random thoughts on current issues. I always remember Lee as a man with a lot of neat antidotal stories.
In many ways Lee has already accomplished what I hope to accomplish in creating a blog of thoughts and insights on issues that concern me.
In October of 2013 Lee posted a short little story/illustration I found insightful for this season of Lent. It is a call for all of us to think about how promote our love for the church. This question: Do we have the same passion to invite a friend or neighbor to church as we do a concert or basketball game? Rev. Lee McDermott’s short illustration/story:
Why Haven’t You Invited Me?
“But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” (Rom. 10:14-15)
Nathan Williams told of two men who had been business partners for over twenty years. They met one Sunday morning as they were leaving a restaurant. One of them asked, “Where are you going this morning?”
“I’m going to play golf. What about you?”
The first man responded rather apologetically, “I’m going to church.”
The other man said, “Why don’t you give up that church stuff?”
The man asked, “What do you mean?”
“Well, we have been partners for twenty years. We have worked together, attended board meetings together, and had lunch together, and all of these twenty years you have never asked me about going to church. You have never invited me to go with you. Obviously, it doesn’t mean that much to you.”
We are told by Jesus that our task as the church is to extend invitations to “come and see” and share the good news, but most often we don’t. We allow our fears or embarrassment rule our behaviors rather than look around at the people we have know even for many years and we fail to act.
What’s the point of any conversation? Is not conversation about sharing life together? Getting to know one another better? Connecting? The best conversations leave us with a mutual respect and increasing fondness of each other with the hopes of continuing the conversation soon. If our faith, our church, and our discipleship is important to us should it not come up in our conversations. But conversations like that seem to be few and far between, especially if they get wrapped up in what we think is “evangelism.”
If our stories of what Jesus has done for us and the fellowship we have found in the church family is truly important to us should it not come up in our conversations.
We often make assumptions about people about their appearance, their mannerism, and we form stereotypes in our mind about specific groups which in turn kills relationships. “Come and See” (John 1:46) are the words the disciple Philip says to his friend Nathaniel. On one level, it is an invitation to friendship, discovery and discipleship. Our faith can be communicated in this way and it can be done with respect and fondness for others. We don’t have to sell Jesus, the Holy Spirit will do this for us, if we are willing to share our own stories of what Jesus means to us.
Today, I have a short video below called “Time to invite someone to church,” which illustrates that we make too many assumptions about people which may prevent us from extending an invitation. Watch the video and consider in your prayers and thoughts today, what prevents you from extending an invitation to others to come and see.
Rev. F. Lee McDermott