Don’t Fear the Golden Sombrero
I didn’t quite know how we would be received. Would people slam the door in our face? Would they even answer the door? The church I was attending was asking the members to go door-to-door around the community inviting others to join us for a new contemporary worship service. I had never been a part of such an outreach program, and I had reservations as to the success we would see. I reluctantly volunteered.
The demographic and social dynamics of communities can differ greatly and require different means of evangelism and outreach. What works well in one area of the country may fail terribly in another. As my friend and I began our walk around the new subdivision we had been assigned I was nervous about people’s reactions. I wondered if knocking on people’s doors on a Saturday afternoon and handing them information about our church would lead into a gospel presentation. Or would I be looking at the front side of doors all afternoon?
In baseball, a player receives a golden sombrero after striking out four times in a nine inning game. I certainly didn’t want to receive the evangelistic equivalent of this unwelcome award.
What I didn’t realize at the time is that people are quite receptive to an invitation to church. In fact our research shows that 82% of people are at least “somewhat likely” to attend church if invited. Sadly, only 21% of churchgoers actually made the effort to invite someone to church last year. While every door I knocked on did not lead to the opportunity to share Christ, almost everyone was willing to hear me out on the new contemporary service our church was offering. Most all took one of the packets I was carrying. I was pleasantly surprised by the response of the neighborhood. My fear of striking out consistently did not materialize.
Paul certainly didn’t fear striking out in Philippians 1. He rejoiced in the advancement of the gospel, even when in chains. He used his predicament to share the saving grace of Jesus Christ with the Roman soldiers that were chained to him in four hour rotations (talk about a captive audience). But like Paul, we will encounter envy and strife. We will strikeout at times. In the end, though, it is God that changes hearts. It is simply up to us to be obedient.
The obedience of the church paid dividends. More than 200 people showed up for the first service, many of them first time visitors. Now a pastor myself I look back on that experience with joy. And one of the first outreach programs I plan to initiate at my church is the “You’re Invited!” campaign. The premise is simple: let’s blanket the community with an invitation to know Jesus and worship at our church. I have a feeling that nobody will be wearing a golden sombrero on the following Sunday.