You invite a handful of friends to church.
The first one laughs at you.
“Nah, I’m good.”
You ask why not.
“I know you have your own religion, but do you have any idea how much scientific evidence is piled against what the Bible says? You probably think the flood was real too. The Bible is an archaic book full of unverifiable myths and absurd rituals. It’s a mystery to me that so many people believe it.”
You suggest a couple of books that might help change his mind, but he vehemently denies the offer.
The second one says he’ll come.
The pastor of the church delivers a riveting message about how God is desperate to bless you, and that His strength will carry you through any situation.
Three weeks later, he calls you Saturday evening and says he doesn’t want to go to church this week. You ask him if he’s okay.
“I don’t know, man. My family is struggling financially, and I’ve been looking for a promotion at work. I prayed to God about it the day after I went to church with you, but He’s not coming through.”
He doesn’t call again.
The third one doesn’t want to come to church because he thinks Christians are too judgmental. You suggest attending your small group instead. He says that’s fine, since at least people get to hear his side of the story.
Upon attending the group, he begins sharing about his messy divorce involving infidelity from both parties. He is visibly broken with shame and wants to see his kids in a stable home, but is grieved by the realization they won’t ever have that. Lately, he explains, he’s been seeing a girl half his age to “pass the time.” Your group seems sincerely concerned. Many offer to pray for him.
As expected, he doesn’t come to church the following Sunday morning, but one of the women in your group approaches you before service.
“Did you talk to that guy in our group? I can’t believe what he did. I’m definitely praying for him. Why is he still sleeping around when he has kids?”
He attends the small group for a few more weeks. He begins to experience change in his life gradually, but he perceives the scrutiny of his past among the group and checks out.
“I can’t do it anymore,” he says to you. “I really need help, but I guess I’m looking in the wrong place.”
The fourth one says he’ll come.
Although he is skeptical at first, he attends consistently, checking out everything the pastor says in his Bible. For the most part, everything lines up. But the purported endless love of Jesus Christ is what strikes him the hardest.
Compelled by the gospel, he decides to make Jesus His Lord, which is worthy of celebration to you. But the greatest surprise occurs the next week when he brings his wife and kids to church. They come for a few more months, but his family ends up moving across the state.
About six years later, he calls you to tell you his oldest son is a missionary to Sudan. His wife has written a book about her struggles with and victory over substance abuse. It becomes a best seller.
Some aren’t going to care.
Some won’t build the foundation.
Some will be strangled by their environment.
But some will bloom.
By the way, inviting friends to church isn’t the formula. How about just sincerely talking to people and listening? Perhaps there are more nutrients in that soil than what appears on the surface.
Have you experienced stories similar to these?