I’ve been thinking about personal invites and recommendations lately. If someone I know and respect invites me to an event or recommends a book, I’m quite likely to give that invite or book serious consideration. Compare that to a person off the street, say someone at the airport or the grocery store, who similarly invites me to an event or recommends a book. It’s unlikely I’d give that person the same kind of consideration as I would a friend, relative or next-door neighbor because I don’t know them. It’s an impersonal relationship. Big, broadcast announcements from the church can carry a similar “vibe” - come to church, come support this event, come volunteer, etc. I suspect a number of folks in our church community who read these invites from Bryn Athyn Church in the BA Post, or on our website or via social media read them as impersonal, as not really applying to them. This is neither a criticism of broadcast announcements (they're important) or of the reader (such invites have their limitations).
I mention this because one of the things that has made me the happiest since taking the post as head pastor here in Bryn Athyn, and that I want to tell people about, is the once-a-month Community Worship service started last fall. This Sunday, January 22, will be our third and I am challenging myself (and you) to do some personal invites. Frankly, the prospect makes me a little nervous. As of this writing, I don't know if I'll do it - I hope I do. Why the hesitancy? Because some of the people in my life that I would like to invite to this special service - friends, family, next door neighbors - have issues with the church. Some have resigned from the General Church, some are tired of lobbying for change, some are burned out, some find church irrelevant to what's going on in their lives, some have had bad experiences growing up in this town. The list of grievances is long and complicated. Everyone has a story to tell, and I respect that, but I still want to make the invite and let the people in my circle of influence know they matter, that this particular worship service is different, that it's a deliberate invitation to put our differences aside and come worship the Lord together. If you have attended one of these services and feel similarly to me, consider doing some personal invites of your own for "... the angels of heaven wish for nothing more than to have new angel guests join them" (Heaven & Hell 71). "Go home and tell your friends what good things the Lord has done for you." (Mark 5:19)