So what do you do? How do you begin the process of gathering people that will become a new, vibrant and reproducing church?
Yes, that's right I said: Throw A Party! You may be wondering how in the world does throwing a party help launch a new church? You may have been thinking that you needed to start with an in depth Bible Study or host some intensive Spirit filled prayer meeting. And by the way those are good things, but when it comes to starting a church that intentionally reaches the unsaved or backslidden Christians the place to start is by throwing a party!
As one does a survey of the New Testament Gospel and the life and ministry of Jesus a very common theme keeps reoccuring. It seems to be a very common practice of Jesus that when he enter a new town or village due to His growing popularity that someone in that town would invite him over for a dinner party. The truth of matter is that Jesus was very popular and was invited to lots of parties, weddings, banquets, and receptions. He was definitely the Who's Who among the young and upcoming Rabinical teachers and as such people felt it was good for their social standing to have Jesus as an honored guest in their home.
We need to remember that during Jesus' time and in the villages he visited there was not a whole lot of entertainment going on for the people. For the most part the daily life of people during that time never really changed. They would get up in the morning, eat breakfast, go bust their butts at whatever job they had, come home, eat dinner, go to bed and wake up again the next morning. They didn't have movie theaters, theme parks, fine dinning or anything else that most of in the 21st Century use for entertainment. So when a person of growing popularity would enter a village that was a very special treat for that community and most everyone would get involved. Let's take a look at a particular time when Jesus invited man to come follow him and how this man responded. It's found in Luke 5:27-32:
Matthew was such a person and many of Matthews friends were those kinds of people. Unfortuantly the Pharisee that came to check out Matthew's party wasn't one who recognized his own sin and thereby wasn't desperate for forgiveness.
- Make sure it includes the things that would be culturally acceptable for you and your friends.
- Make sure there's nothing illegal, immoral, unethical or sinful. (No strip dancers, no illegal drugs etc..)
- Make sure that you introduce Jesus at the party and give your guest an invitation to join you and your partner in a study to learn more about Him.
- AS PEOPLE ARE ARRIVING: Plan out what you are going to be doing while people are arriving. Making sure the earliest guests are not just standing around getting bord. Are you going to be playing games or offering snacks for people to munch on while others are still arriving? Your aim here is to keep people engaged from the moment they attend. To introduce Jesus in this part of the party you can play a game where you have people fill out a survey on how much they actually know of Jesus' life and then offer a gift for the one who gets the most right. Make sure you know the answers to the questions and where its found in the Bible.
- DURING THE PARTY ITSELF: Along with the games, eating and dancing that you maybe doing there needs to be a well thought out time to talk about Jesus to your guests. Where that falls into your party depends on you but you need to clearly plan how you are going to introduce Jesus to them. This should not be left up to chance or trying to do it by flying by the seat of your pants. Here three suggestion:
- Show A Movie: You could easily invite your friends over to see a movie about Jesus like The Jesus Film or The Passion Of The Christ. Other movies might work well also like Courageous or Facing The Giants. Movies are a great way to engage our North American Society and get discussion started.
- Give Your Testimony: You can use this opportunity to share with you guest about what your life was like before you give your heart over to Jesus, who you met Jesus and what your life has been like since Jesus forgave you of your sins.
- Share A Gospel Presentation: A Gospel Presentation is a clear and easy explanation how a person came come and experiences Christ's forgiveness of sin personally. There are lots of good Gospel Presentations available. A couple for you to consider are: The Bridge Presentation or The Roman Road Presentation.
- CLOSING THE PARTY: At the close of the party you need to offer a compelling invitation for your guest to join you for a 7 week study on Christ himself as told from the Bible. Your guests need to know that they don't need any prior Bible knowledge or religious education and that its just an opportunity for them to find out who Jesus really is according to the Bible. Let them know when the study is going to start along with the time and location. I feel the best time to start the study is within a week and no longer than two weeks of your party. Personally I feel 1 week should be your goal otherwise we give Satan time to distract them. Let them know before they leave your party that you will be calling them within a day or two to see if they would like to be part of the study.
- Set a date, time and location for you PARTY.
- Design and mail out your party invitations in a way that will let you guests know that you will be sharing Jesus with them.
- Plan what you will be doing at your party and specifically how you are going to introduce Jesus to them.
- Pray for the party and those who might attend.
- THROW THE PARTY! Do It!!