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Overcoming Fear to Invite

[This week I asked Pastor Stephen to share some of his notes from a workshop he attended. Without further ado…!]

Empty Chair

Michael Harvey is perhaps best known as one of the architects behind the “Back to Church Sunday” movement. Last week I had the privilege of sitting-in on a workshop he facilitated locally. Many of his discussion points were helpful & challenging.

Perhaps the most shocking, telling figure was this: within the global “western” church, statistics reveal that between 80-95% of church-goers have no intention of ever inviting others.

It would seem that the church is being driven by a toxic mission script, where despite an era of church history where we have some of the best quality teachers/preachers and the best opportunities and tools for discipleship, the mood of invitation (of “come & see”) is at an historic low. Why? One word; fear.

  • Fear of rejection. “What if they say no?”
  • Fear of inadequacy. “What if I can’t answer their questions?”
  • Fear of an affected reputation. “What if people think I’m weird or pushy?”
  • Even fear of a positive response! “What if they actually come to my church? What then?!”

Interestingly enough as we probe more deeply we discover that the heart of the problem has to do with a fear that we are being rejected. But Jesus makes it clear to his disciples then and now when he says, “Anyone who accepts your message is also accepting me. And anyone who rejects you is rejecting me. And anyone who rejects me is rejecting God, who sent me.” (Luke 10:16) Michael encouraged pastors, leaders, and Christ followers to get past themselves and our fears of being rejected and instead simply seek to be obedient in extending the invitation and allowing God’s Spirit to be at work. In the face of all of our self-centered fears it’s fitting that well over one-hundred times the scriptures say, “do not be afraid.”

Michael shared that renewal and revival are often triggered when God’s people choose to believe God’s truth. So will we as church – God’s people – choose to believe God’s truth that the kingdom has come near, that the gospel of Christ is good news for everyone; or will 80-95% of us be rendered paralyze with fear?