By Mark Walz
A few years ago when we first moved into our current house, we noticed our neighbors across the street were having a coffee on their front porch. They waved and called us on up. ‘Cool!’, I thought. It was really different, mainly because it seems so few people spend time on their front porches these days. It is a bit nostalgic when we think back to when families hung out on the front porch or in the front lawn and greeted people as they walked their dog. That day our neighbors, who also are Christians, were living out an intentional decision to be front-porch-people. It was a mission opportunity for them. And they longed for the chance to connect more easily with neighbors and to be a place of welcoming. For them, their physical presence on a regular basis on the porch was an invitation to connect with anyone who wanted to walk on up and say ‘good morning!’
The response from us was an immediate one — we wanted that as well. So, as we began to dream and plan for the day when we could add to the front of our house, we knew we wanted to have a place that was inviting in a similar way. We wanted our home and our front porch (now deck!) to be a place of welcome. As many of you now know, we have a massive deck/porch around our live oak in the front of our house. It is a gift from the Lord for our mission here in our neighborhood. However, just having the place of welcome doesn’t make it so. There must be within our family the desire to be on the deck often and be willing to invite and be welcoming to people who stroll on by. It is not always easy, but it is always good.
Now of course the main reason we have made the commitment to have a culture of invitation for our home comes from our faith. It is the history of Christianity to invite others into the truth and into a relationship with Christ; for the Christian faith is a faith of invitation. This is how the Church grows. Remember when Jesus first called his disciples? He said to them, “Come and you will see” (John 1:39). And the disciples, when they invited others to meet Jesus, used the same attitude, “Come and see,” said Philip (John 1:46). Jesus had created from the outset a culture of invitation within his circles of followers. This is, again, part of how the kingdom of God grows; the invitations of disciples — through people like you and me.
What would it look like if each one of us were more like Philip? If you and I would dare to invite others to meet Christ? And what would it take to commit to something like this to one another? Well, I am glad you asked! This year, here at St Patrick’s, we are asking each of you to pledge to extend ten invitations to people outside of the church to be a part of our community of faith. We have designed actual pledge cards — ones similar to what you might see for a fundraising drive — for each of us to fill out and sign. And we are collecting these on the last Sunday of this month (3/27) at our worship service. At that service, we will pray over the cards and pray for our year, that God would make us into a community with a culture of invitation. Please be in prayer for how you might participate.