"We need to stop inviting people to Christian events as our only form of outreach."
(Dustin Bagby, The Relevant Church)
How many times do we see this in churches? We put on an event. We tell everyone to invite their friends. We call it outreach. It begs me to ask, what have we even done to reach out?
I think outreach takes a risk. I think it requires us putting our life on the line more than it requires our pride being put on the line. Really that's all we do when we work as invite-evangelists. We're hoping that someone will come see all the hard work we've done (even if we would never admit it) and we hope that they will be moved and respond accordingly. But what have we risked? Our pride takes a hit when someone says no or says they're busy. But that's all (even though we seem to make it out to be a big deal). We choke it up and vow to try again at the next invite-only event.
But I have a picture of more urgency and more risk when it comes to introducing people to Jesus. If someone fell off the balcony of a 23-story building, we wouldn't just stand by and kindly ask the person to reach out their hand and grab the other railing. The idea of "I hope they don't refuse my advice and then fall to their death" wouldn't even enter the picture. We would hopefully be throwing themselves over the balcony to try and rescue the individual. There's more on the line than just someones pride...it's their life.
Yet, how often are we willing to risk our lives when it comes to those around us? How willing are we to risk our time and energy on those that don't know Jesus? How likely are we to just stand by and invite someone and hope that someone else will take the risk?
Most of us don't know how to risk. We don't want to risk rejection. We don't want to risk failing. We don't want to risk the time, the energy, the late night phone calls, the constant questions and the seemingly endless interruptions that come from dealing with messy and hurting lives. Instead, we settle for inviting someone to some event and then we pat ourselves on the back and say we've done our part.
But, isn't outreach about investing in people? And spending time with people? And listening to people...and loving people? Isn't it about being with people? Isn't it all about risk?
I think of Jesus who was with people when they were tired, when they were annoying, when they asked ridiculous questions, when they didn't understand, when they failed, when they made mistakes, when they were messy. He took risks. He invested time. He didn't just stand by and wait for someone else to do something. He did it.
Is invite-evangelism normal?