Churches may never realize the impact they have on the lives of their members or the surrounding community. Recently, my grandfather passed away, and as we were looking through a few of his treasured belongings, we found his Bible. On the inside cover of his worn leather Bible was this inscription. “Dr. L. L Patterson, Arcadia, Wisconsin accepted Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior, May 22, 1957.”
I began thinking of the legacy my grandfather. He had six children, 10 grandchildren, and 18 great-grandchildren, most of whom are believers. The decision he made in his thirties, over sixty years ago, forever changed not only his life, but the lives of those who came after him for generations. One man simply presented the gospel to my grandfather in a simply compelling manor and led both him and my grandma into a relationship with Christ. Shortly after that, a small backwoods Baptist church in Wisconsin helped strengthen his faith and drew him into a closer relationship with the Creator. Something had changed in my grandfather’s life after he came to know Christ, he become a strong ambassador of telling others of the joy and eternal destiny one can experience when walking with the Lord.
At his funeral this past fall, a member of the church he attended stood up to reflect on how he met Lowell. He recounted the invitation my grandfather extended to him by inviting him to church. Lowell would simply ask, “Do you have a church?” Depending on the response, he would then invite that person to his church and told him they would be welcomed. He would then seek out the newcomer and make them feel welcomed and a part of the church community.
As a part of Converge’s 10-year vision, everyone has been encouraged to “reach one,” in essence, allow yourself to be used by God. Just as God used one man to lead my grandfather to Christ, we too are asked to simply extend the invitation. Oftentimes its easier said than done to extend an invitation, so below are some ways to prepare your heart and mind. Remember, a simple invitation could have an impact on numerous people’s eternities.
All spiritual ministry begins with prayer, so ask God to do these things:
• Open your eyes and heart to recognize and respond to the people he places in your path during your normal daily routines.
• Bring to mind two or three people he wants you to get to know. This could be a neighbor or someone you see regularly (a cashier, barista, waiter, mailman, etc.) but have never engaged in extended conversation.
• Pray for these people as God brings them to mind and provides natural encounters. Pray for God’s blessing on their lives, families, health, and work.
I grew up with the advantage of growing up in a Christian home. I was blessed to inherit this gift because of someone, years ago, reached out to my Grandfather and shared the love of Christ with him. Many Christians, including myself at times, believe it’s the church’s or pastor’s responsibility to grow the church, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. We are the hands and feet of the living church. It is our job to help spread the good news of Jesus Christ.
I want to encourage churches with this story. In times when you think things are slow in your ministry, the Holy Spirt may be working in ways that might never be revealed to us this side of heaven. Continue to lean on the truths of the Bible.
My encouragement to our friends and investors is to be bold in reaching out to friends and neighbors. Your efforts may have a significant impact on endless generations. At times, this request may seem risky, but consider the heavenly impact.
One of the reasons I am so passionate about working with Converge Cornerstone Fund is that I have the privilege of supporting churches as they literally take new ground for the kingdom of God. The churches we work with are more than financial transactions, they are ministry partners and friends. Every new church that is planted, or every renovation completed has the opportunity to bring new people into life-changing relationships. I am excited what this new year brings and encouraged to hear how lives are changed throughout Converge churches.