But there is another reason people don’t come to church. It is not what has happened to them, but what has not happened for them. They have not experienced the power of an inclusive, accepting, supportive and forgiving community of faith. It is nigh impossible to imagine having experienced authentic Christian community only to reject it.
This Sunday we will be one of hundreds of churches around the country taking part in Back to Church Sunday. The goal is twofold: first, to invite people to our faith community. The goal before that, however, is to help us all become more comfortable extending the invitation.
Here is my first thought on the second goal. Let us honestly and openly ask whether the reasons people say they don’t come to church are true at Hanover. If we are convinced they are not, then our evangelism task is easier: we can invite anyone without fear that their fears will be realized.
I believe we are each blessed by such a community of faith; one that extends radical hospitality, offers unconditional acceptance, shares forgiveness and grace, and does it all with great food and endless laughter! If we believe this then our evangelical task is neither conflicted nor complex: it is simply to share the power of our experience trusting the rest to the movement of God’s Holy Spirit.