Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Monday, March 30, 2009

Inviting in... or going out? YES

Yesterday, in our worship service, I challenged our community to consider inviting people to our Easter service. We distributed little prayer cards on which people could write the names of those they'd like to invite to our Easter service. On this particular Sunday, our goal is to declare the good news that, since Jesus is risen from the dead, it doesn't need to be 'business as usual' in this tired, broken world. Jesus began a new kingdom, a kingdom that's not yet here in any substantial way, though it is here, as citizens of His reign embody hope in so many countless ways around the world. The invitation to step into that kingdom, and be reconciled to that King, is what the Christian life is all about. We'll also inaugurate an initiative on that Sunday to raise money for digging wells in Africa, serving some of the world's neediest in His name. Why wouldn't we want others to know, and enter in?

On the other hand, asking people to enter in to this new kingdom is only part of the story, for the reality is that, unless we're living in this kingdom ourselves, we've nothing to offer other than an idea. That's why there are many who say that it is far better to go out into the world and serve, than to invite people to attend a worship service. It is only out there, in the world, that we're able to show our world who Jesus is, or so the argument goes. I'd respond by saying that indeed, out there is where it's critical to show the world who Jesus is. That's why Christ followers serve the homeless, work with New Horizons, work with Operation Night Watch, tutor students at Bagley Elementary School, work in Pregnancy Centers, are involved in schools, both through Young Life, coaching, and PTA, are involved in the Greater Aurora Involved Neighbors (GAIN) work of addressing the social problems that plague our neighborhood, are involved on university campuses, and are involved in the business world of downtown, to name but a few.

Inviting people to attend a worship service can never be a substitute for involvement in service, and if people weren't already involved in serving, it would be wrong to hide behind the fortress and simply invite people in. But, in light of ways people are involved in serving in the community, it seems appropriate to complement that involvement with invitations, at least once in a while, to come and see, hear, experience, a community of people declaring the hope that is found in Christ and explaining what that means for everyday living.

What do you think? Inviting in? Going out? Both?


At 30/3/09 14:12, Blogger Pino's Pensamientos said...

I think it's both. I'm not sure we're even doing a great job of inviting others in, or maybe we're expecting them to make that huge jump on the first step. Relevancy is key and being in the community provides a context for understanding the lives of others and helps us to make our message more clear to the culture! Just my two cents! Thanks for blogging on this topic :)

At 30/3/09 14:48, Blogger Ryan said...

We are a part of a new "missional" church that prides itself on a "go and be" mentality rather than a "come and see" mentality. However, I do believe that if the community of followers who gather together actually model the kingdom of God that is and is yet to come, then why not ask people to "come and see". (See John 1:46). The problem is we often want people to come to see the kingdom of such and such church or pastor and not really to the real kingdom of God.
My other caution is that our churches feel the pressure to give our best performances on Christmas and Easter and we actually deceive newcomers into thinking it is like this every week. I think our celebration of the Risen Savior should be special without doing anything unusually attractive to the possible new people, just our normal style of speaking and worshipping.

At 31/3/09 01:54, Blogger Elizabeth said...

It is much easier for me to go and serve. I feel it is less obtrusive and more under the radar. I may not even have to mention Jesus, unless someone asks.
On the other hand, it is more challenging for me to invite someone to my church community. I feel I have to be more in their face about Christ and the reality of his kingdom. It requires a trust in God and his calling on my life and the situations He has placed me in.
I believe Christ both met people where they were at- in their communities, in their sin- and called people out. In kind, I believe I am called to go out into the community and love and serve. At the same time I am to invite people to hear the life-giving message of Christ through the intimacy and trust of our relationship. Despite my own insecurities, it is incredibly important to introduce people to the message behind the service.

At 31/3/09 02:23, Blogger kylesale said...

The obvious answer is both, logically and scripturally. We live in bi-polar times that dictate either/or. Either your Red or Blue, Husky or Coug, Post Modern Missional or boring Traditional.

Okay, I'm making light but I've found that some of the most effective missions take place when we invite folks in to partake in the riches of the Church family.

It's obviously great to go out and serve, and Christ calls us to such, but when we combine a healthy church 'home life' with a focused effort to serve our community...look out!

I think this is the beauty of the early church in Acts, they preached the Word boldly, served in their community and provided a church that personified our relational Lord (worshiping together, meeting one anothers needs, etc).

I guess I would compare it to high school when (too many years ago!) I brought home a friend from a broken home and he was blown away by the experience of spending time with a loving, caring, family. The world is aching for sustaining, nourishing relationships and we should be able to offer that in Christ. If our missions are amazing but we don't provide a place for folks to come and partake in the rich fruit harvested from those missions, shame on us.

At 31/3/09 06:20, Blogger Richard Dahlstrom said...

almost entirely with you kyle... except the notion that one can somehow embrace identity as a Husky and a Cougar. That assaults my deepest held theological sensibilities. Surely God wouldn't ask that of us?

At 1/4/09 03:30, Blogger kylesale said...

Richard, God knows our limitations and surely wouldn't push us beyond them! I'm actually a Vandal living in Edinburgh, Scotland right now so I don't have to confront the Husky/Coug malaise.


At 1/4/09 12:30, Anonymous WarriorChief said...

As a Native Brother in the Spirit of the Creator,i believe in both. As i have invited & shared my story w/alot of people i have invited alot of people to come to church. i like sharing the story of Jesus & what is has meant in my life as i am building relatinships w/the people i work for or stand guard for some rock stars,or people of influences. i think we should all invite the ones we encounter & not just on those holidays but let the people really 'see' the church in its norm.
Anyways, this is what i think.


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