December 2017

ALL welcome… ALL invited

One of the things I love about our church is just how welcoming it is, and often people who have never been to our church before comment about the warm welcome they receive when they come into church. I smile deep inside at those times because I can’t help feel that this is
the type of community God had in mind when He invented church: a wonderful community where anyone coming for the first time, or not, can feel the welcoming love of God.

This week however, whilst doing some church leadership training, I was not only challenged to think about how welcoming our church is, but also how INVITING we are! Statistics show that only 20% of people who go to church invite someone they know to their church. Why is this? Why does it appear so difficult for people in our church to invite their friends to a place that is so welcoming? This got me thinking. When was the last time I invited someone to church? When was the last time you invited someone to church?

Christmas is a great time to invite people we know to church. It shouldn’t be the only time we invite people to church but it makes for a great start. This Christmas I want to encourage you to pray and ask God for a name of a friend, family member or acquaintance whom God wants you to invite to church. In a prayer time simply ask God, “Is there someone you want me to invite to church?” Write their name on a piece of paper or if you feel you haven’t got a name yet write a ‘?’ until you have someone and keep asking. That’s the easy part! The next might be a little scarier. Take one of the Christmas cards we’ve produced and a special booklet called “#God with Us” and give them to the person on your piece of paper and ask them, “Would you like to come to church with me?” You might be bolder still and say, “When I was praying I was
asking God who He wanted me to invite to church and your name came into my head.” In doing this you could be inviting them to take a significant step in discovering the compelling truth behind Christmas – that being the person Jesus.

As a church we have bought the booklet “#God with Us” because we recognise that for many
people, Christmas has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus but is wrapped up in lots of other
things. This booklet reminds us that the compelling truth behind Christmas can be summed
up in one word, “EMMANUEL”, which means “GOD WITH US.” Yes, the Christmas story is about the birth of Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem. Yes, it is about angels celebrating along with shepherds and yes, it is about wise men travelling from the East with special gifts.However the story’s central claim is the fact that the one born in that humble manger was none other than God Himself and that He came to save us all. The Bible describes it like this,

“So the word (God) became human and made His home among us.
He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.”

As a faith community this is why we worship, this is why we rejoice and celebrate together.
We are a community who know the reality that God is with us and is very real and present in
our daily lives. We understand that by God’s Spirit living in us we are transformed from death
into new life with Jesus. Isn’t this type of community worth inviting others into? I pray that we
do not keep this news to ourselves but share this wonderful message out to others and invite
them in to the truth that God is knocking on the door of their hearts to be with them too.

Let me take this opportunity to wish you every blessing in Christ as we approach Christmas,
and commission you to be bold in your inviting of others.

Daniel Currie (Vicar)

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