Remember this: The farmer who plants a few seeds will have a very small harvest. But the farmer who plants because he has received God’s blessings will receive a harvest of God’s blessings in return. [2 Corinthians 9:6 (GW)]
We’ve been enjoying the first of the summer’s home-grown sweet corn. While nibbling down a cob, I pondered how many kernels of corn were on it. I didn’t count them, but I understand that, on an average, one ear of corn will have around 500 kernels on it. If we were looking for seeds instead of dinner, 500 seeds from just one is a pretty good return.
Before it produces fruit, a corn kernel has to be planted and experience good growing conditions. Like corn, we Christians need good growing conditions before bearing fruit. It is our churches that provide the water, sunlight, nourishment, and even pest control needed to mature in our faith. Unfortunately, there are way too many pews empty in most of our churches and, although 40% of Americans say they go to church weekly, statistics show that less than 20% are actually there!
Most of our churches have evangelism committees whose job is to go out and spread the word. Getting people to church, however, is not a task limited to a chosen few. The rest of us, while we may not be good at the “Go-and-Tell” type of evangelism are all capable of the “Come-and-Hear” kind—all it takes is an invitation to church. Unfortunately, we’re not very good at doing that. According to Dr. Thom Rainer (author of The Unchurched Next Door), only 2% of us ever invite an unchurched person to church. Yet, apparently 96% of the unchurched say they’d be likely to attend church if invited! (At least they were in 2003!) When church growth specialist Dr. Win Arn asked over 50,000 people why they starting coming to church, more than two-thirds said they began attending because someone had invited them!
Filling those empty seats in our sanctuaries may be as easy as asking someone to church. We don’t have to poach another church’s members or convert other believers to our denomination. With nearly a quarter of the population considering themselves “unaffiliated”, there are plenty of the unchurched to go around. Inviting someone to church is no more difficult than inviting them to dinner—it’s really easier since we don’t have to cook. A good starting place is simply by talking about our church with friends and neighbors. We could share one of the pastor’s jokes, an interesting point from the sermon, something our church is doing for the community, or a special activity they are planning. Food is always a great incentive so we could couple our invitation to church with a brunch invite.
Food brings me back to that ear of corn. What if, rather than eating those 500 kernels found on one cob, we planted them? If each corn seed sprouted into a stalk that produced one ear of corn, we’d have another 500 stalks yielding 250,000 kernels of corn. Consider the size of the harvest if we kept planting those seeds. What if we could plant the word of God and have a yield like that? The early church grew exponentially and, if we do our part, the church could do so again. We might start by inviting someone to church.