7 December 2017

It’s Advent season, according to the traditional church calendar. Advent means “arrival” or “coming”. The Advent season is where we celebrate Christ’s first coming – his coming into human flesh – at Christmas, and prepare for his second coming – to judge the world and take his people home – at the end of the age.

Because he is coming again as the risen Lord and Judge, we are eager for people to recognise Jesus’ first coming, as Saviour of the World.

And so as a church we put a lot of work into making the most of the opportunities that Christmas gives us as a cultural occasion to put Christ at the centre of Christmas – or at least onto people’s agenda for some decent consideration.

You can help by adopting a couple of streets today – the same ones to letterbox drop every Christmas and Easter with an invitation to our special services – while ever you are fit enough and still living in the Gong!

But more than that, you can help by inviting your own friends, neighbours, colleagues, classmates, and family along to one of our Carols and Christmas services. It’s the one time of year you can safely assume it is completely culturally OK to ask people along to church!

One of America’s premier church leadership consultants, Thom Rainer recently said:

One of the primary reasons our churches do not have guests is straightforward: We are not inviting people to come. In my research… we found that nearly eight of ten unchurched persons would come to church if we invited them and accompanied them to the worship services.

I am certain the figure would be quite a bit lower in Australia. But we should not figure it is zero! Here’s a few interesting results I noticed in some 2017 research from McCrindle, one of Australia’s premier social researchers:

  • Half of all Australians (52%) say they would be open, to some extent, to changing their religious views, given the right circumstances.
  • 12% of Australians are really quite open about this – that’s more than one in ten!
  • Australians are most prompted to think about spiritual and religious things through conversations with other people (31%) followed by reading a book or an article (21%).
  • More than half of all Australians (55%) says they talk about spirituality or religion (often or occasionally) when they gather with friends.

That gives me hope for conversation and invitations this Christmas… if only we will get on the front foot and have a go! But before that, get on your knee, and pray as well.

We work hard at making our Christmas services cool and credible and creedal. But most of all we need to remember: we are offering them something better: we are offering Christ – inviting them to meet the man Jesus: the Saviour, Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11). Pray that the power of the Holy Spirit is unleashed this Christmas as we preach and converse on Christ.

Warmly in Christ,

Sandy Grant
Senior Minister