Is it all too hard?

Pentecost 13 – 2015

John 6:56-69 (loosely) – Is it all too hard?

Marian Free

 In the name of God, Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier. Amen.

We are told that 3m people in the UK say they would come to church if invited.They are not inclined to gate-crash someone else’s private club & so far nobody ever has invited themThe film clip suggests that in the USA 80% of first time church-goers have come because they have responded to an invitation.

Someone I know watches “Family Feud” so I’ve been initiated into that television programme. If you don’t know it, two families compete to guess the most popular answers to a variety of questions such as: “What is the most popular kitchen implement?” Apparently programme organizers have asked a selection of people that question and ranked the answers according to popularity. A member of each family in turn, has to guess the most popular answer. If they guess the highest- ranking answer they get more points than if they guess those at the bottom.

We are going to something like that this morning, but we are only going to have one question: “Why don’t church-goers invite other people to church?” Instead of having two families, we are going to invite you to write down what you think would be the top 5 responses to that question, for each “correct” answer you will score five points.

Here are some of the excuses people offer for not inviting others to church.

  • It might damage my friendship
  • The congregation will think my friend is not ‘our’ type of person
  • My friends are not the right type of people for our church
  • The church is pretty full already – where would they sit?
  • I’m shy so I would find it difficult
  • Faith is a private thing
  • I don’t want to be seen as strange – a Bible basher
  • I wouldn’t know what to say if they asked me hard theological Qs
  • They might ask me why I go to church
  • I suffer in my church services and so would others
  • Our services are unpredictable – I don’t really trust them
  • Our church is boring – it would put my friend off
  • My friend would not want to go
  • I don’t want to be rejected
  • We have no non-churchgoing friends
  • It’s the leaders’ job to fill the church – not mine
  • My friend said ‘no’ when I asked them last year

This list was drawn up by the team behind the programme: “Leading your Church into Growth” – the theme of the latest Clergy Conference.

Did you get more than five? More than 10?

Did you come up with an answer that is not here?

In today’s gospel we hear that a number of Jesus’ disciples turned back and stopped following him it is all too hard, Jesus says to those who remain: “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter’s response is: “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Sharing the gospel can be difficult. We can’t always explain what our faith means to us, or answer complex questions but that does not mean that we turn away. Instead of assuming that our friends and families do not want to come to church, why don’t we begin to imagine that they are simply waiting for our invitation. What’s the worst that can happen if we do? What might happen if we don’t?

We claim to be follows of the one who gives life in the present AND for eternity. Do we really want to keep that to ourselves

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