“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” Romans 10:14
“Would you like to come to church with me sometime?”
Few Catholics would disagree with the principle of this question. We might even agree that inviting people to church is a key part of evangelism and central to the mission of any church body. And get this, people actually want to be invited to church, too: 9 out of 10 unchurched people say they would come to church if invited, according to researcher Thom Rainer.
The only problem is, we rarely ask the question. This next stat is a tough pill to swallow: about 1 in 5 of us churchgoers invites anybody to church in the course of a year, per Rainer. We might have someone who could be totally up for it right in front of us, practically beckoning us to invite them, and instead we hesitate and hem and haw and sometimes don’t even get the words out of our mouths.
People want to be invited to church, and they’ll come if we do, and we’re not doing it. There’s only one probable explanation: fear. Fear of what they’ll think of us for going, fear of what they think of our church, fear of what they’ll think of us if they come and don’t like it. Truth be told, some of those fears might come to happen—but it’s still fear of man, and that’s not a valid reason for us to deny an opportunity to Jesus’ mission.
Here are eight tips to get around the fear that has stood in your way up to now:
1. PRAY YOU’D HAVE GOD’S HEART FOR THE LOST
God’s heart for the lost is most clearly seen in his selfless sacrifice of the cross. Meditate on Paul’s words to the Romans where he wished that he himself was accursed than that one of his kinsmen would be separated from God. If your heart has become so hardened that you no longer care that your neighbor is estranged from Christ, repent! Pray that God would give you a powerful love for those who do not know him. Trust that he will give you that love through the Holy Spirit.
2. PRAY FOR COURAGE
The fear that is standing in the way of your faithfulness and giving you comfort in your sin of silence is the work of the enemy. Pray for deliverance from fear, pray for courage, and pray for boldness. The Holy Spirit will meet you there.
3. PRAY FOR SPECIFIC PEOPLE
Pray that God would put five people on your heart you will invite to hear the gospel of his son. When he does, trust that he will give you the courage you just prayed for to be faithful in reaching out to people he put on your heart.
4. REMEMBER YOUR OWN CALLING
Instead of focusing on your fears, redirect your mind to the grace of God in your own life. The more we reflect on his grace and mercy the more our hearts long to see that love poured out in the lives of others. Listen to the stories of how God saved other Catholics in your church and pray that God would give you the gift of watching those stories unfold in the lives of the five people you invite.
5. REMEMBER THE GOSPEL
The primary way God reconciles sinners to himself is through the verbal proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. People need to hear the gospel explained to believe. How can they believe if they do not hear? The goal of inviting non-Catholics to Easter Sunday is incredibly simple: through the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, God will open blind eyes and a dead heart to believe.
6. TRUST IN THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL TO SAVE
I have seen God change people that seemed hopeless. I have heard stories of God reaching people in their darkest moments. If your non-Catholic friend seems to have little interest in Christ that is not a sign they never will. Remember they are living in the same place you once were before God saved you.
7. KNOW THAT SHARING THE HOPE OF ETERNITY IS LOVING
Inviting non-Catholics to hear the gospel can challenge some of the lies they have built a false hope upon. It may feel wrong or awkward to challenge some of those beliefs, but it is the most loving thing you can do. Loving someone means caring about their eternal future, not just the brief moment of this life.
8. KNOW THAT IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU
Nothing about God saving your non-Catholic friend depends on you. Salvation is of the Lord, not the result of your clever arguments. If you know that God does all the work of awakening a dead heart, it takes the pressure off your abilities to get the words or the timing just right. Our job is faithfulness to tell his gospel; the results are of the Lord.
If and when you do invite someone to church, and if and when they do respond to the Holy Spirit and accept Christ as their Savior—the joy you will experience seeing your friend meet Jesus will make all the fear you had to fight through seem like a breeze.
Whom does God want you to invite to church to hear the gospel this year?
“Since we have such a hope, we are very bold.” 2 Corinthians 3:12
From an article by Pastor Matt Rogers posted August 29, 2013.