Meeting, inviting people; part of the joy of ministry

Dr. David L. Chancey's picture

When I have the chance to break away from the office, I enjoy visiting in neighborhoods, meeting people and inviting them to church. I usually say something like:

“Hi! I’m David Chancey, the pastor of McDonough Road Baptist Church. I just wanted to stop by for a moment and invite you to our church. Do you have a church home?”

Often, I get this response: “Where in McDonough is your church?”

I say, “We’re not in McDonough. We’re in Fayetteville on the road to McDonough.”

Soccer folks can find the soccer fields. Newcomers can find the department of drivers’ services building. If they’d all travel just a little further, they’d find us on the left.

I think we must be Fayetteville’s best kept secret.

That’s why we have to work harder to make ourselves known. We draw people with a strong blended worship service and active age group ministries. We have good pull with our Upward Sports ministries, our Fall Festival and our Vacation Bible School. Beyond that, we still periodically knock on doors.

We believe in old fashioned visitation. It’s not unusual for a newcomer to tell me, “You’re the first church to come by and invite us. Thank you for coming.”

At the end of May, some of our folks visited two neighborhoods and invited people to our Vacation Bible School. That’s when one of our couples encountered a “member of the board” of a particular development who let them know in a hurry that they were not welcomed in that neighborhood.

“Didn’t you see the ‘No Soliciting’ signs at the subdivision entrance?” he stated, somewhat agitated.

The next Monday, I got this letter from “a member of the board” requesting that our members respect the “no soliciting” signs posted at the neighborhood entrances and threatening to call the police if we do “any further soliciting.”

I would have loved to answer the letter, but the sender didn’t sign it. So I’ll try to explain my rationale for visiting in this neighborhood and any neighborhood.

First, we weren’t soliciting. I don’t pretend to be a lawyer, but, technically, soliciting involves urging someone to commit a criminal or immoral act, or asking someone to buy something. We were doing neither. We were simply inviting people to send their kids to VBS.

Second, we care about people. Helping people spiritually, including inviting them to faith and to attend church, are responsibilities of ministry. Our folks at McDonough Road truly care about people’s spiritual lives and we’re here to help. We won’t pester, and we’ll respect any lack of interest. But people matter to us because people matter to God.

Third, we strive to obey Jesus. In a story Jesus told in Luke 14 about the great supper, Jesus said that the master told the servant, “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in that my house may be filled” (Luke 14:23). That’s what Jesus commands his church folks to do.

Among Jesus’ final words to his followers were, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations . . .” (Matthew 28:19). We are to be going, inviting, sharing people. That’s why, when we can make time to do so, we still knock on doors. We want to be obedient.

Recently, a family who had been regular attenders for over two years officially joined our church. I asked the husband to remind me how they found out about us. He said, “You knocked on our door when we were new and invited us to church. And we came.”

As I shared earlier, we have to work hard just to let people know where we are. We’re not in McDonough.

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