It All Started With One Question – Would you like to go to church with me?
I want you to think back to the time when you were deciding to go to church. Why did you go? What held you back from initially going?
For many people in the Christian community, the church has always been a part of routine, day-to-day life, but for a few individuals, that hasn't always been the case. If the church has been a part of your Sunday routine for as long as you can remember, then it's likely you've forgotten how scary it can be walking into a foreign building, risking being seen by people—truly being seen.
I was once that young adult, trying to find a home church, yet afraid to be seen amongst a group of strangers.
It's important to note that although I would tell you I have always been a believer in God, I haven't always been a follower. To be completely honest, I didn't even know there was a difference. I grew up in a Catholic home and for whatever reason; we just never went to church regularly. Ultimately, there’s a difference between being religious and having a committed faith.
During my college years, my curiosity started to include this God I had always believed in but never knew. There was something in the pit of my stomach that wanted to know more about Him and millions of questions that wanted to be answered. The problem was, I didn’t know where to begin. I started going to mass, but I just didn’t understand sitting through a service I did not understand nor enjoy, so I gave up.
Then, in 2013 I moved across state lines to start my job in the U.S. Air Force. I was single and moving to a foreign city all by myself. I was ill-equipped, to say the least. I had never rented a place without my parent's help, but here I was doing everything alone.
After a few months I felt settled and got into a regular routine of working and enjoying my downtime, but something was missing. I started researching churches in my area to explore and noticed one really close to my apartment (so close I could walk to it). I decided I was going to give it a try.
Looking back, I realize God was working inside of me. He was prompting me back to Him. Like the lost sheep in Luke 15:1-7, God was searching for me to come home to his embrace.
Unfortunately, when that Sunday came, I just could not move my feet. All this fear overwhelmed me as I looked at that massive building.
What door do I enter? I wonder if they are going to make me stand up and introduce myself? How do I know my beliefs align with there’s? Will I be the darkest person in the room?
All of these questions stopped me dead in my tracks, and I never made it inside that church.
I was embarrassed.
I was afraid.
This happened over and over again. I didn’t want to walk into a church and be told how much of a bad person I was. I didn’t want anyone to know I had rarely even opened up the Bible.
I eventually stopped trying to find (or enter) a church. There were problems with the small churches and the big churches alike so I just resigned myself to believe I would never belong.
Then, Easter of 2014 it all changed. An acquaintance from college had just moved to the area with her husband and started working in my unit (small world). A few weeks before Easter, she handed me a flier and casually asked if I would like to go to church with her and have Easter lunch afterward.
I immediately said yes! I met her and her husband at their house before church, and we all rode together to their Easter Service. This made a world of difference. I walked into a large foreign building and felt comforted that I had a friend by my side. Surely people wouldn’t know who I was.
That service transformed my life.
I felt the Holy Spirit like I had never felt before. Do you remember that something in the pit of my stomach? It was a match waiting to be ignited inside of me--a passion for the Lord. That Sunday the fire grew full force.
I fell in love with Christ.
From that moment on, my life was transformed. When you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, there is an inward transformation that is reflected on the outside. There was no grand show for me accepting Jesus into my life. There was no altar call. Instead, in the middle of prayer, I raised my hand and asked Jesus into my life. From that day forward my life has never been the same.
And you know what? It all started with ONE question – “Would you like to go to church with me?”
Having a friend beside me made the terrifying less scary. She knew which door to walk in, she comforted me in explaining what I was going to expect. I only had to raise my hand for being new, no need to stand up and speak (thank God!). Those initial fears were induced by the enemy to keep me from listening to God’s will, but with someone by my side I had the strength to face those fears.
Having seen how this one question was the catalyst for my transformation, I am convicted to share with you this testimony in hopes that it will encourage and equip you.
As we enter the holiday season; a season filled with special services, and shared meals, I want to challenge you to invite a friend, “Would you like to go to church with me?”
Inviting them does not mean you should give them a flyer and then tell them to check it out or stop by. Instead, offer to meet in the car park and walk in together. Offer to meet before or after for a shared meal. Offer to be by their side as they fearfully step into the unknown. Your presence will comfort them and give them strength to see for themselves what church is really about. Your invitation and presence will open the door for them to know that church isn't filled with stereotypical Bible thumpers or holier than thou Christians, but instead, sinners in need of saving. People worth knowing - people just like you and me. Broken yet eager.
So start thinking and praying over whom you plan to invite next, and when it comes down to it, just ask “Would you like to go to church with me?” Your bravery in asking may be all it takes for their bravery to committing their life to the Lord.