June weekend challenges Christians to invite friends to church
A feeding of 5000 at Kempton Park Racecourse is among the events lined up during next month’s first-ever National Weekend of Invitation (15-17 June).
“Every church has an opportunity to do something – big or small, for young or old, for five or 5000,” said Michael Harvey (pictured), co-founder of Back to Church Sunday. “We know from research that almost three million people are open to being invited to church. The National Weekend of Invitation is an opportunity for us to do the inviting.’”
The initiative is supported by church leaders of several denominations, including the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, who became a Christian after being invited to church as a teenager.
“People won’t hear the good news of Jesus unless they are invited to do so,” he said. “I want us all to use the National Weekend of Invitation and get inviting!”
Many churches are already preparing for the weekend. On the evening of Friday 15 June, a team from St Saviour’s, Sunbury-on-Thames will knock on doors, offering to pray for people and inviting them to a special service on Sunday 17 June, called Joy@KemptonPark.
“We have a great line up of bands leading worship and Andrew Palau from the Luis Palau Association is flying over to share his testimony and preach the Gospel,” said St Saviour’s Rowena Cross. “After the celebration we will attempt to feed the 5000, using supermarket surplus food that would usually go to waste. We want to highlight food poverty and the huge food waste that exists alongside it.”
Meanwhile, St Mary Magdalene in Sale have planned a three-week sermon series on the culture of invitation, leading up to a number of special guest services.
The National Weekend of Invitation follows on from Thy Kingdom Come, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s season of Pentecost prayer focusing on evangelism.
Free resources offering churches special advice on the initiative are available at the National Weekend of Invitation website.
“Over the years we have discovered that about seven out of 10 Christians feel God may be prompting them to invite someone to church,” said Michael Harvey. “However, eight out of 10 have no intention of doing so. We fear rejection, of failing and getting it wrong. We imagine God is only pleased with success. This creates a fear to invite, in case we fail. And, if we do invite, a sense of failure if we get a negative response.
“We hope the weekend will part of a paradigm shift in church thinking about invitation and, in particular, the role of the inviter.”
There is still time for churches to take part in the initiative and more information can be found at www.weekendofinvitation.com