Why invitations?

After Bridge services this week in which we called for people to physically respond for salvation in services (and saw 64 people give their lives to Christ!), someone graciously asked me this in the lobby…

I’ve noticed we’ve done an invitation [that’s church-speak for a pastor calling people to respond in some way to receive Christ] in services twice lately. Do you mind me asking why we’re doing that?

Because that’s such a great question and we plan to continue calling people to respond for salvation at least once every sermon series, here are a few reasons…

In the Bible the preaching of the gospel includes a call for response. 

  • Jesus’ preaching included the call to “Follow me!
  • Peter’s preaching called people to “repent and be baptized every one of you!”
  • Romans 10 calls people to “confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord” for salvation
  • It says, “everyone who CALLS on the name of the Lord will be saved”

People aren’t saved just by hearing good news, but by RESPONDING in repentance and faith. In keeping with the gospel’s call to a response of faith and repentance for salvation, Biblical preaching calls people to a response to the gospel.

An unprecedented number of non-Christians are attending Bridge services.

Mission is in our DNA and we’ve always had a hunger for The Bridge to be a place where people could “belong before they believe,” investigating faith and Jesus. But in the last year something popped and it started happening. Around 10% of our Easter attendance this year SELF-IDENTIFIED as non-Christian. There were over 60 people in services JUST THIS WEEK that needed to respond for salvation. If we’re going to be good stewards of the lost people attending our services, we have call on people to respond for salvation.

God often uses multiple gospel responses for salvation. 

What makes some people nervous about invitations is they may see people respond multiple times and think, “Is this confusing people more than it’s helping people?” But as Tim Keller has helpfully pointed out, while there is always a moment at which someone is saved, from a human perspective there are “Paul conversions” and there are “Peter conversions.” In Paul’s conversion there was a dramatic moment in which his conversion was immediately obvious on the Damascus Road. But when was Peter converted?

  • When he started following Jesus?
  • Later, when he realized Jesus was the Messiah?
  • Even later, when he confessed with his mouth Jesus as Lord?
  • Even even later, when he demonstrated visible repentance and showed life change?

From a human perspective, Peter’s conversion wasn’t a POINT as much as it was a PROCESS. Many (most?) people come to faith in Christ this way –– through a series of many responses to the gospel. Honestly, someone may respond to an invitation 3 or 4 times and here’s what’s happening…

  • The first time they’re thinking, “Wow. I really believe this now.”
  • The second time, “Now I’m ready to change my life to start following Jesus.”
  • The third time, “I’m ready to make this public in baptism. I’ve realized this is who I am.”

I don’t know WHEN that person was converted, I just care THAT they were converted.

Because of stories like this.

The greatest day of your life will be the day you walk into a service sweating because someone you love that isn’t a Christian is coming with you, and you walk out of the service weeping because that person gave their life to Christ. If someone you love doesn’t know God, YOU WANT your church to call people to respond. After services yesterday, someone shot this text about a man in his 60’s that was there…

I don’t know if you remember my friend’s husband who thought The Bridge was a cult and wouldn’t come for 3 or so years. Well, yesterday he was there and raised his hand at the end of the service, and he wants to be baptized! His spirit is excited, and his face has changed.