Alyssa Shibata stopped inviting friends to church a long time ago. Maybe it's time to rethink invitation. Read her thoughts:
The idea of inviting someone to church scares me. I have no real rationale for it; it just makes me uncomfortable. It might be because of my upbringing. Many of you might know my parents, Denise and Chris Robinson, or my grandparents, Bill and Jeannine Johnson. If don't know them, just trust me...I was raised in the church.
I personally was never in need of an invitation to church. I felt perfectly comfortable walking in to any church whenever I wanted and knew generally who to find to get any information I needed. I guess you could say I speak "Christianese." It's a subtle language, but I'm fluent.
Because of my deep roots in the church, which don't get me wrong – it's been a positive thing, I never experienced the feeling of not belonging. If you've followed my previous blog posts, you'll know there was a period of time when I refused to go to church. But I never had the feeling that I couldn't walk into a church and be welcomed there if I wanted to; I just didn't want to at the time.
Maybe it's the overly enforced political correctness of today or something else, but when I invite someone to church I feel like I am forcing my religion on them. I mentally prepare for them to be offended that I would even ask. There are people that I've been friends with for years and never even considered inviting them to a worship service or church event.
I fear they'll judge me. I fear they'll treat me differently because I’m "that kind" of Christian. I fear that somehow our relationship will never be quite the same because I awkwardly invited them to church that one time.
I fear these things because usually when I am invited to a person's church, he or she is a complete stranger shouting at me from a street corner. That person doesn't know me. That person doesn't want a relationship with me. That person just wants to have more numbers to brag about on Sunday morning for their "highest attendance yet!" I don't want people to see me that way.
Am I the only one who feels this way?
So when Rev. Daniel Humbert started challenging us to invite people to worship this Christmas, I had to start thinking about my own motivations. Why would I invite someone to church? I've come up with a short list of why I, Alyssa Shibata, would invite someone to church. Your list might be very different from mine.
- Everyone deserves to experience the love I've experienced.
Whether you are a believer or not, you deserve to feel loved, accepted and indiscriminate belonging. I've had the honor of feeling Christ's love on a regular basis because of this church.
- My church is intellectually challenging and stimulating.
Every week when I leave service, I've been exposed to a new realization about the world around me – and sometimes I don't like what I see. I am constantly challenged to love more, do more, speak more and go outside my comfort zone. Not all churches do this, and I'm grateful that my church is willing to upset the status quo and transform the culture.
- You can be yourself here without judgement.
I have multiple tattoos and piercings. I curse like a sailor (although I'm working on that one). I show up in ripped jeans and a t-shirt. My hair is never brushed (and occasionally a different color like purple or pink), and makeup is non-existent to me. My husband is an Atheist who chooses not to come to church with me, and I feel no need to hide that fact. Nobody cares! Every time I walk in the doors, everyone is happy to see me. Any time my husband walks in, everyone is happy to see him.
There are so many other reasons I love this church, and I really do want other people to experience what I've experienced. Maybe if I just speak to those three topics, anyone who receives an invitation from me will feel that it comes from a genuine place of love.
Daniel, I accept your challenge. I will invite people to church.
Do you accept the challenge? Trietsch has made it easy. Stop by the info desk to pick up invitation cards to pass out to friends, neighbors or even complete strangers if you feel comfortable. Let's go!