Searching for a Silver Bullet
Every generation, it seems, wants a silver bullet. They want the secret formula for instant church growth. Do this. Say that. Play these songs. Preach those sermons. And...voila! You’ll be doing four Sunday services just like the big boys do! Yeah...it doesn’t work like that.
The most effective strategy (ironically, it’s the most biblical strategy as well) for evangelism will always, always, always be one on one, one person telling another person what God has done in and through his life.
At North Point Community Church (perhaps the most innovative and techno-savvy church I know) they call this strategy “Invest and Invite”. I know. How lo-tech can you get, right? Regular members just invest in other people and wait for an opportunity to invite them to a church event. That’s it. No smart lights or high-speed internet connection needed.
It’s old school and unsexy, but it works to the tune of, like, 500 baptisms per year at their Alpharetta campus alone.
If any other church had a program that boasted numbers like that, we’d be knocking down their door, begging them to put it in a box and giftwrap it for us. If First Baptist of Podunk, Utah, had a Halloween Trunk-or-Treat Extravaganza that brought in 500 new people each year – if Trinity Presbyterian of East Bumble, New Mexico, came up with a personalized automated email marketing software that got around all those pesky spam laws and guaranteed us one new member for every 25-30 current members – we’d be screaming at the top of our lungs: SHOW US HOW TO DO IT! WE DON’T CARE HOW MUCH IT COSTS!
But this? Invest and Invite? This involves things like people...having conversations...with other people...who don’t go to church. And that might be...uncomfortable.
Give us doorhangers to hang on people’s doors. Give us postcards to mail to people’s homes. Give us clever slogans we can put on our church marquees. Better curriculum. More creative programming. Cooler music. A better website. Give us a spiky-haired preacher wearing his long-sleeve striped shirt untucked with $300 jeans.
But please do not ask me to go next door and ask my neighbor if he needs help with anything. And, if you do, you better pray he doesn’t ask me anything about Jesus or God or the Old Testament or gay marriage or why I voted the way I did.
I know we all want a script here. We all want to know what to say if our neighbor asks us one of those stumpers. But I’m not going to give you one. Instead I’m going to suggest you do something crazy, something radical, something so Christlike that it might actually cost you something.
I want you to go over there and love that neighbor.
That’s right. You heard me. Get over there and just love the daylights out of him. Love him like he’s never been loved before. Love him like his momma loves him. Better yet, love him like Jesus loves him.
That’ll show him!
Odds are, your neighbor knows you’re a Christian. Let’s hope he knows that you attend church somewhere, that he’s seen you leaving your house on Sunday morning dressed in something that looks like churchly attire. He’s seen the kids getting out of the van with refrigerator art. And he knows what you’re up to when you come over.
He’ll be expecting the question about heaven and hell. He’ll be ready with an answer about where he last went to church and what he thinks about the Bible.
But I bet he won’t be expecting love, certainly not a love like this, a love so pure, so fierce and so holy that it expects nothing in return but simultaneously, irresistably, somehow, changes its recipient. Maybe it’ll take him so completely off guard that he’ll forget to ask you one of those ridiculously tough questions he’s got saved up.
Love can do that, you know. It’s happened before.
Love is the ultimate silver bullet.