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?