An Open Invitation // M-Note 5.28.2021

I love to ask new people, “How did you find The Gathering?” This past week at NEXT (our monthly event for people to learn more about the church), I asked just that. One young woman who moved to St. Louis just last week was there and told me her story. She lived in Alabama and struggled to ever connect with a church that felt like home. Her mother, who also lives in a very small town in southern Missouri, called her one day and told her that she should check out The Gathering. It turns out that her mom had found us during the pandemic, started worshiping online, and thought that we might be right for her daughter. So, she invited her. Fast forward several months and her daughter decided to move to a new place and pursue a fresh opportunity. She chose St. Louis, in part because of the connection she felt with our church. Upon arriving in St. Louis and starting a new job, she was talking to a coworker. She told the coworker that she started attending The Gathering from a distance and was now excited to be able to do it in person. The coworker smiled and said, “I was just about to invite you to The Gathering. It is my church, too”!
 
I love to hear stories like this. Most of us don’t think of ourselves as “evangelists”. In fact, most of us have a pretty negative view of what that word means. Most of us would never call ourselves pastors. Don’t you have to have some degree for that? Many of us may not see ourselves as leaders. Those are people who know more about the Bible or theology, right? But the truth is, you are all those things. Every day, you have the opportunity to invite someone to hear good news about God (that is what the word evangelist means). Every day, you have the opportunity to help a person find a new connection with God (that is what pastors do). Every day, you have the chance to lead someone to Jesus and a church that could change their lives (that’s a leader). Every day, we have a chance to do that, and it is as simple as offering an invitation.
 
There are more people in your life than you realize who are searching for something. Maybe they feel stuck in their faith, disconnected from God, burned by a previous church, disinterested in organized religion, or so busy that they haven’t stopped to even think about it all. In the midst of that, you can offer a simple invitation: “Hey, I heard this message, listened to this song, took my kids to this church, connected with this group…and I really think you might find it meaningful. Would you want to go with me sometime?”.  
 
It is that simple. A mom inviting her daughter. A coworker inviting another. A friend asking a friend. A parent talking to another at the playground. This is actually where lives can be changed, where a latent faith might be sparked, or where a person may start the journey to connect with a God who can change their life. It doesn’t happen in special workshops, big worship services, or by theological experts. It happens when ordinary people like you and me just follow that nudge and invite another person.
 
I love to hear these stories. So, do me a favor. If you are reading this online, you can find this post on my Facebook page. Share the story of how YOU found The Gathering. And this weekend, offer an invitation!
 
Have a wonderful holiday weekend everyone, and I will see you in worship.

Peace+

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