By Jackson Lane
Have you ever felt hesitant to invite a friend to church? Asking someone to join you can be awkward. And that feeling can be even more real when it’s someone you don’t know well. I know I feel this way sometimes, which is weird, because my church means a lot to me. It’s where I’ve gotten to know my friends and find community. I’ve found people who have walked with me through good times and bad times, and who offer support and guidance when I need it. And I want all of that for other people, but I find myself rarely reaching out because of the risk that it will feel awkward.
I met someone recently who is really good at navigating this awkwardness. Her name is Sanola, and she’s invited a lot of people to her church—over 600, so far this year.
My team and I met up with Sanola in Brooklyn to tell her story. Sanola is a wife and mom of two kiddos, and she loves Jesus. She shares that love and her enthusiasm for Life.Church with almost everyone she meets. When we asked her about inviting others to church, she couldn’t stop smiling as she spoke about her passion for sharing her faith in Jesus. None of the awkwardness I associate with inviting people to church was there for her.
Sanola told us a story that inspired her passion for inviting others to church. She had been attending Life.Church Online when her friend was hospitalized. Sanola knew her friend wasn’t a follower of Jesus, so she sent her an invitation to church over a text message. Sanola’s friend was able to engage in worship, hear a compelling message, and experience community with others in her service, right from her hospital bed at Life.Church Online. And at the end of the service, this friend made the decision to commit her life to Christ. Sanola was thrilled when she found out.
Days later, however, Sanola’s friend passed away in the hospital. Through tears, Sanola told us that her friend’s final days and eternity were changed because of her simple decision to share Jesus with her friend.
This realization drove Sanola to share Jesus with just about everyone she runs into by inviting them to church.
Now, if you’re like me, you might still be asking yourself, “How does Sanola avoid feeling fearful or awkward?” I found out that it’s because she takes a different approach to inviting people. Sanola fully embraces the moment and avoids awkward feelings by prioritizing the connection with the other person.
Sanola doesn’t feel an obligation to get people to come to church. She feels a motivation to share how Jesus has impacted her life through her church. She knows she might be able to change someone’s future by helping them to know Jesus, so she focuses on what matters—their connection. That’s what God will use to draw his people to Him. Ultimately, that’s how the gospel is designed to be shared. Acts 2:42 tells us about Jesus’ followers devoting themselves to connecting with people through friendship. Sanola uses this approach when inviting others to church.
I got to watch her do it. We were filming in Brooklyn at a coffee shop. Sanola went up to order a latte, and as she ordered a latte, she invited the barista to her church!
Here’s how she did it: she ordered her coffee with the biggest smile and waited at the counter. When the barista handed her the drink, Sanola said, “Hey, can I tell you about my church?” The barista agreed, and Sanola went on to tell her about Life.Church Online and how much it means to her. She told her about how easy it is to attend every week, then asked if she could send her a digital invite on Instagram. She opened the Life.Church app and sent her new friend an invitation to her church through a DM. I thought it was amazing how she connected with someone and couldn’t help but share her community with them.
I was really inspired, so I decided to take a similar approach and share my church with a friend. I went into the Life.Church app and sent a text to my friend, Josh. Here’s the actual text I sent him:
I didn’t tell him he should come to church with me—I just shared my experience: “I really liked my church’s message this week!” It turns out, that text meant more to him than I thought it would.
As I was writing this post, I decided to call Josh and ask how he was doing and how he liked Life.Church. I found out when I sent him that text message, he was actually going through a discouraging season. A friend’s dad had recently passed away and Josh was just feeling down. My text was a reminder to him that he wasn’t alone. You never know what people are going through and how one simple act can make a huge impact.
I asked Josh about that awkward feeling we can sometimes get when inviting someone to church. Josh told me he didn’t feel weird about it at all. He was glad I texted him. He told me it was like a pat on the back from God.
He found it especially convenient that he could attend Life.Church anytime, day or night, and engage with a community of people online around the world. Josh even told me he feels like he needs to share Life.Church with more people, because there are plenty of people who need the community he experienced at Life.Church.
So, just like Sanola, I let go of the obligation to “bring someone to church.” Letting go helped me overcome that awkward feeling and set me up to share Jesus with my friend. Church became another part of the conversation between me and Josh, and the desired outcome became the human connection he and I experienced together. Using Sanola’s approach, God opened the door for me to share my church community.
Like Sanola, God worked through my willingness to share my experiences with Josh. And God will work through your willingness to share your experiences. You don’t have to convince someone to come to church with you. It’s not about something you have to do at all. It’s just talking to others about who Jesus is to you and sharing what your church means to you. Then, all that’s left is making sure they know they’re invited, too.
We know people connect through experiences and, often, that connection is what God uses to work in the hearts of people. Jesus lived life with friends and invited people to be closer to God with Him. Sanola reminded me that sharing my church with my friends, neighbors, or even a barista is a great way to follow Jesus.
If you’re thinking about inviting people to Life.Church, I have some simple advice. First, ask God to help you connect with people. Next, think about what’s meaningful to you about your faith and your church. Finally, share that with people and invite them to experience the grace and love of Jesus with you. If you go to Life.Church, it’s really simple to send invites using the Life.Church app.
Click the button below to download it and get ready for God to see God at work.