FIRST-PERSON: Start a conversation

Tags: evangelism

COLUMBIA, S.C. (BP) -- "My coworker invited me to his church again," a neighborhood friend said.

He is a hard worker and has a great family. He doesn't go to church very much but is open to talking about spiritual things and desires to follow God. We have had a lot of Gospel conversations. I probed a bit to find out more about the invite.

"What do you think?" I asked.

"He goes to a big old honking church with a band and a big honking preacher," he said.

I thought it was funny that he said honking twice in one sentence.

"He has church stickers on his car and T-shirts to match," my neighbor added. "He always talks about how great his church is and constantly asks me to go with him."

"So why don't you go?" I asked. "Maybe he'll quit hounding you if you go with him once."

His response rocked me: "I don't go because I think he cares more about me going to his church than he does about me."

Time seemed to stand still. It was one of those moments where God gets your attention and whispers something profound in your ear, causing me to ask myself: Do I really care about people the way Jesus cares about them? Do I see them as He sees them?

Churches are always looking for ways to get people to come. They may do a clever sermon series or send out mass mailers for large events. Sometimes, though, we may focus so much on the next big thing that we neglect the most important thing.

The key attraction for the church is not smoke and lights, a loud band and a hip preacher; it is people who genuinely love others and care about them. If a church has plateaued, it may be less about what happened on Sunday than what didn't happen Monday through Saturday.

If we truly care about people, we will have Gospel conversations with them. Instead of inviting your neighbor to church, why not invite him to your home for dinner or spend a day fishing with him at the pond? Listen. Become a friend. Invite your neighbor into a relationship -- not just a worship service -- then start the conversation.

Lee Clamp, @leeclamp on Twitter, is evangelism group director for the South Carolina Baptist Convention.
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