"Come and see..." John 1:39
Some of you may recognize this story I've used before. It comes from David Jeremiah who tells it as one of the legends that grew from the bus ministry of Thomas Road Baptist Church. Some years ago, when they were located in the downtown area of Lynchburg, VA, the congregation used to send buses all over the city to bring youth to their Sunday night service. Over time they discovered that not all the kids went inside the church. They got off the buses, headed downtown to the arcades, then returned in time to ride home. In other words, the bus ministry became free transportation to get to downtown entertainment. Therefore the church started posting ushers on the street to direct kids into the building.
One evening an usher spotted two boys heading downtown. He quickly took them by the arm and escorted them into the sanctuary, taking them all the way to the front pew. That night the service was especially powerful. When an invitation to accept Christ was given, the boys went forward. After the service people took the boys into a prayer room to explain what their decision meant and what next steps to take to grow in their new faith. One of the persons then said, "Now the buses have all left, but we will make sure you get a ride home." The boys asked, "What buses?" The person said, "The bus you rode to get here tonight." The boys replied, "We didn't ride a bus here. We were just walking down the street when these two men brought us inside this church!
Sometimes we find ourselves in places we didn't expect to be and realize it was right where God wanted to meet us.
I think of that truth as we get ready to head into a season of marketing St. Luke's to our community. We want people to know all that we have to offer for worship, connection and service. We have diverse worship services on Sunday morning. We have many ways to connect people and grow in faith. If you want to be a part of a community that makes a difference in the world, then St. Luke's is the place to be. But it must start with invitations!
Just think for a moment about all we can use to invite people to "come and see." This Sunday (and every third Sunday of the month between now and June) we have the orchestra in the traditional services. We have a series on relationships that is being spun with a creative zombie theme. We have an amazing choir as well as fantastic praise music. There is tonight's dialogue on race issues with Charlie Russell and Phil Gulley. Next month, Oct. 21-22, Ragtime, the musical that poignantly deals with race relations, will be presented as a combined effort between St. Luke's and Barnes United Methodist Churches. Then we are soon to be upon the seasons of Advent and Christmas.
We are working on a strategy to market the church that will most likely emphasize the word MORE. We are a church that has more to offer people. Ultimately that more is what God brings to life. Jesus said he came that we may have life, life that is abundant. Every time we invite someone to hear our orchestra, attend a musical, or experience an important dialogue, etc, you never know when such an experience leads to a breakthrough of God's power to bring more to a person's life. Sometimes we find ourselves in places we didn't expect to be and discover God was there ready to meet us.
So you have close to 48 hours before this Sunday's services. Who can you invite? Practice your own personal bus ministry and offer to pick them up!
See you Sunday,