Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote–Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” —John 1:45
In greater and greater numbers, I discover people who are burned out on the institutional church. Some have given up on church but have not given up on God. In our outreach to our respective communities, let us not neglect this key group. Let us not give up on them, either. With time and the right opportunity, they will come back.
Robert is a local business owner in our community who needed some computer work done within his store. He heard about someone named Bill, who had computer skills, and invited him to come by his business to provide an estimate. In the course of their dialogue, Robert invited Bill and his family to our church. For Bill and wife, Susan, there was immediate hesitancy, due to a debacle that happened at their previous church that had left them jaded and confused. Needless to say, their ecclesiology took a major hit. After some time, though, they came and brought their children.
What they found was not what they expected, which was “more of the same.” What they found, instead, was a loving community of people who helped them heal and believe again. Note this excerpt from a testimony written by Susan and published on our church’s web page:
I knew in my heart that not being a part of a local church was not healthy and more importantly not something that I should be doing with my children. At the beginning of 2008, I started a prayer journal. One thing that I put on my list of goals for 2008 was to find a church home. In February of 2008, I had my third child, and I knew that the most important thing for her life was to be raised as a Christian. In April, my family attended Olde Towne for the first time. What a difference this church has made.
We were welcomed and celebrated before we could get out of the car. The people were loving in a way that I had never experienced. The services are so God-centered and worshipful that I have begun to let go of my fears and hurt. Olde Towne has restored my life in Christ by freeing me from religion and laying the pathway back to the relationship I had with God when I was first born again.
Bill and Susan are now totally involved in the local church and serve as lay leaders. Just think: it started with a simple invitation, just like the one Philip extended to Nathanael. For the family listed above, they are grateful that someone reached out and dared to extend hope where hope was needed.
Lord Jesus, help us to extend invitations to those who are separated from the body and need to find a home among your people. In your name, Amen.
Dr. Marshall Stokes, Pastor, Olde Towne Community Church, Ridgeland, Mississippi
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All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked NRSV are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked Phillips are taken from The New Testament in Modern English by J. B. Phillips, 1962 edition, published by Harper Collins.