The Power Of Invitation

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Tuesday, October 18, I drove Bryce, Jim, and Brian down to the Vermeer Global Pavilion in Pella for a conference featuring Bill Easum.  I had heard Bill Easum speak at a conference in the mid-90s before I ever attended seminary.  I went at the invitation of my pastor at the church we attended in Bellevue, Nebraska, Del Eslinger.  I still have a copy of the $5.00 resource I purchased that afternoon:  “Developing a Multiple Staff.”  Who knows what motivated me to purchase that one resource by Easum before I was even trained to be a pastor?  I have been grateful for his sound advice and have used it.  I looked forward to hearing what his experience and research would bring to this staff for the future of our church.

He spoke about the ongoing transition from the industrial age to the digital age that is forcing everything to be different, pushing the complex to be simpler.  He said he used to talk about 21 principles that churches need to grow.  Then he boiled it down to seven.  Now he realizes people want it even simpler and he has pared it down to FOUR core processes necessary for a church to grow.  Some people are uncomfortable talking about church growth.  To borrow from Bill Easum’s logic, it is possible to grow a church without encouraging anyone to follow Jesus…further!  However, it is impossible to encourage everyone to follow Jesus…further and not grow the church.

The four processes he spelled out for us over the course of the day are 1) The Inviting Process, 2) The Connecting Process, 3) The Apprenticing Process, and 4) The Sending Process.  When he was growing up people came to church because it’s what you did.  He’s now 77.  People don’t come to church anymore because it is what you do.  People won’t come to church today without an invitation.  While there were a lot of good ideas that day that we can work on as a staff and as teams, I’d like to share two instances of things we are doing right to invite.  He mentioned how important the web-site is for inviting people.  People today go to the web-site before they visit a church.  I’m so grateful for the good work people have done to keep our web-site current.  We had a good web-site that Lora Kramer helped keep current.  It recently was redesigned and updated by Lance Hansmann.  This kind of volunteer effort is enormously helpful. 

Beyond the web-site, people need a personal invitation.  The web-site helps support such invitations.  We have had several new people visiting our church in recent weeks.  Jim asked one of those couples what brought them to our church.  They shared that they were invited by two different people.  That’s great!  One of those people was Cali Buseman.  Cali is only eight years old.  She has already grasped one of the key things we can and should all be doing.  We should be encouraging people to follow Jesus…further by inviting them to join us at church.  Way to go, Cali!  Maybe someday you will be the one speaking at a conference.   I hope we will all be encouraged by your example and be ready to offer an authentic invite to people who aren’t currently connected to a church and who might be waiting for our invitation before they will take that step.  Who can you invite to church this month?