Gleanings – The Power of Personal

John 1:43-51

“Philip said to him (Nathanael), ‘Come and see.’”

Jesus found Philip and said “follow me.” Philip then found Nathanael and said to him “come and see.” Hear the simplicity of it all. One person is bearing personal witness to another. We have found the one whom Moses and the prophets wrote about, Philip said. What we have believed would come true finally has. Nathanael responds to this personal invitation and quickly encounters Jesus.

To be sure there are a variety of ways to reach people for Jesus including radio, TV, mass mailings, billboards, Facebook, Twitter. All of these means are employed to reach people for the Kingdom and I am sure with some degree of success. That is well and good. But are not all lacking personal witness and the intimacy of a personal invitation.

If I receive a slick mailer telling me about a new church, I might read it with some interest. Then again, I might throw it out having examined it long enough and only that long to know what it is. In either case I am not likely to visit the church. But if my good friend Judson, says “John, come and see this new church” I am likely to be at least a one-time visitor.

Why? What’s the difference? The mailer is sent from a church that needs me in order to be a success. In some ways I am a means to an end. They don’t know me from Adam but they are keeping score or counting fish and want to number me among their catches. On the other hand, Judson, being a friend, is more of a shepherd than a hireling and he has a demonstrated concern for my soul that spans five years. Judson isn’t likely to run the risk of damaging our relationship by insisting that I accompany him to something without substance. To the best of my ability I would try to honor his personal invitation.

Modern thinking is often shaped by the conviction that more and faster are better. The impersonal mass mailing or E-vite may reach more people expeditiously but does that make it better? Undeniably, no! Evidence remains that 85% of people visit a church because of a personal invitation from a friend (see “Movements that Change the World” by Addison on existing networks of relationships). And surely the means matter? If you invite people impersonally to relate to something impersonal (a church, class or program), aren’t you building barriers to the ultimate goal of a personal relationship with the living God? Some of the megachurches are realizing that, in spite of being actively engaged in programs, their people aren’t growing spiritually. Simple answer? Programs don’t disciple people. People disciple people as Philip and Nathanael demonstrate.

Are you among the many who have abandoned attracting others to Jesus and the church to the professionals (clergy and staff) or worse to the marketers and consultants? The time has come again for all people to say to friends and family, “Come and see.”


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