In Circle of Hope we say our vision for fulfilling our mission is this:
“We create an environment where people can connect with God and act for redemption. Responding in love to our thirsty region and fractured society, we are birthing a new generation of the church to resist and restore with those moved by the Holy Spirit”
We are the environment.
We are temples of the holy spirit (1 Corinthians 6). We designed our Public Meetings to be an expression of the gospel by the community that embodies it. We are inviting people into a relationship with God expressed among us. We want to respond to Jesus’ command to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28).
The people we know may notice our good behavior, but our morality little distinguishes us from a secular humanist, a muslim, a sikh, or a jew. But really, I don’t think they are paying that much attention to you to even notice that you’re good. If we want to make disciples we are going to need to do more than just be ourselves among them. We need to create opportunities for those around us to see our faith embodied. One of the best ways to communicate our faith to them is to invite them into a cell or a PM. You may have experience with coercive street preachers, or over-zealous youth group leaders in your past but the overwhelming majority of people do not. Being invited to a meeting is not as weird as you think, and if you can’t be convinced that it isn’t weird, it’s time for some exposure therapy. The best way to get over your aversion to inviting people to your cell or our public meeting is to invite them to your cell or our public meeting.
What prevents us from invitation and why we need to stop being prevented
We have acquiesced to the cultural rules about politeness and religion. We believe that people think Christians are pushy and we shouldn’t be like that. We believe that religion is a private matter that every one discovers on their own, in their own personal way so we should not impose our process onto someone else’s. We don’t always have a sense of ourselves as the light of the world and the salt of the earth that Jesus told us we are. We are not always convinced that everyone needs Jesus or that we are probably the best chance they will get to meet Him. Finding the words, the story, the way to shine your light, Christ’s light, is the point of Circle of Hope’s existence. Some of those words are “Will you come with me?”
Charles Arn, a church growth researcher, asked more than 50,000 people why they came to church, and between 75 and 90 percent of respondents say, “I began attending because someone invited me.” I have spent some of my time as Development Pastor getting the word out in other ways- internet, stickers, posters, flyers. Maybe I have prepared the way for some, maybe I have wasted a lot of time. Either way, I am ready to see how many people I can get to come to our Public Meetings in 2014.
I want to create some excitement around our Public Meetings because I think they are really great. A lot of us put a lot of work into them and I am often very aware of God’s presence among us. Everyone I know who has become a Christian in Circle of Hope has come around us and been among us for a while before they made an explicit decision to follow Jesus. I want to invite more people into that process. Some of us are thick into this struggle and this is not a new challenge. Others of us could benefit from a reboot or a group of people who are dedicated to this task together. I thought it would be a good idea to gather a group to pay attention to the PMs. Are you one of them? Are you one who wants to join me in the invitation? Call me. Or are you one who wants to receive this blog post as your invitation? See you at Circle of Hope Broad and Washington, 1125 S. Broad Street on Sunday at 7pm!