Monday, January 21, 2008

The evangelist

Suddenly, I am evangelizing.

Not the showing-up-on-your-doorstep-talking-smack-about-the-state-of-the-world kind. Not telling my friends that they are destined to an eternity of hellfire and bad food if they don't mend their ways. Not even Jesus is Lord and until you accept that you are doomed.

Nope. I am just inviting people to visit my church. And they have been. And some have stayed. My son's friend mentioned a couple of weeks ago that they were planning to visit the Baptist church in the neighborhood.

"Really?" I said. "What's your mom's number at work?"

At which point I called her and invited her and the family to come to Grace on Sunday.

"I'll swing by and show you how to get there." I said.

They came, and it turned out that long ago, they had been Episcopalians until their parish closed and they never found another church.

They loved Grace. They joined. The kid is now in the middle school youth group with Noah. The teenager is excited about the mission trip this summer. The parents are going to volunteer to make sandwiches for the homeless. They all went up and took communion for the first time in years.

When I talk about my church, I talk about it with such joy and affection, I think people get interested.

A week ago I had dinner with friends and yesterday one of them showed up for the 10am service at Grace. She is a Unitarian Christian who is, I think, coming to understand that there is an oxymoronic element to that. She is longing for the sacraments. She is longing to hear about Jesus in church. She longs to sing his praises. So there she was. Next week she is coming to Lectio Divina before the service.

I loved my UU church, but interestingly, I never invited any of my friends to come with me. Well, maybe once or twice. A lesbian friend checked it out once, but it was the most dour of services. Doom and gloom, like Lent without the uplifting possibility of redemption. Even the hymns that day were like dirges. One of the problems with a UU church is you really never know what to expect. One week it was a sermon on the redemptive elements of Harry Potter. The next it was a survey of Sufi poets. The next it was a diatribe on how the Catholic church mounted a smear campaign against Mary of Magdala. My friend never came back.

Getting people excited about a church is, admittedly, a little bit of bait and switch. Because it is not that I think that Grace is the be-all of churches. Or that going to church is even the point. It is that something remarkable has been happening there. God is kicking butt. People are experiencing transformation. Redemption. Miracles are occurring. Yesterday a man who has been coming for almost two years took communion for the first time. (Maybe he figured if Nguyen could do it, he could too, LOL.) Grace is a community of people who are earnestly seeking to be in deeper relationship with Jesus. So, by inviting people to our beautiful building with our great choir and sweet, funny priests and friendly parishioners, I am actually inviting them to open a door to God. I figure if I try and get them in the pews, God will do the rest.

So, what are you doing this Sunday?

No comments: