When I was a junior in high school, I’ll never forget, I was at my locker getting my books for my next class; and, my best friend, Tony Ruffin, walked up to me and said, “Mike? Would you be interested in visiting my church on Sunday morning?” I responded (with no hesitation), “Sure! I’d love to visit your church on Sunday morning.” And, sure enough, I kept my promise and I visited his church on the following Sunday morning. That one visit to his church transformed the trajectory of my life and my personal walk with Christ. Several years later, I became a deacon in this same church; and, five or six years after that I became an associate minister; and, then I went on to enroll in seminary at Lincoln Christian University to earn a Master of Divinity. And, as they say, the rest is history; I became a pastor and avid Bible reader and a Bible scholar. However, it all started with an invitation from a friend who I saw everyday at school; from a friend with whom I ate (the not so tasty) school lunch with, regularly, in the cafeteria; and, from a friend whose house I spent the night at almost every weekend.
Research has shown, that people are more likely to visit a church if they are invited by a close-friend or family member than by any other method. We are quickly approaching Stewardship Sunday. Stewardship is simply the proper management of the resources that God has blessed each and every one of us with. It is imperative that we all become good stewards of our time; our money; our gifts and talents; and, the church that God has blessed us with.
I want to encourage all of you to become good stewards of God’s church. There are three ways in which you can become a good steward. Firstly, you can become a good steward by pledging a financial gift to the church weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or even quarterly. The financial gifts that are given to the church are used to support our local ministry; to support ministries in the Greater Rochester-Area; and, to support our denomination (the United Church of Christ). Secondly, you can become a good steward by volunteering. There are countless ways you can serve in the church; and, there are countless boards that are looking for new innovative talent (i.e., the Board of Christian Education, the Board of Christian Action, the Board of Finance, the Board of Buildings and Grounds, the Board of Religious Service, and so many others). If you are interested, just call the church office and we will be able to direct you to the right board. Finally, you can become a good steward by inviting your friends and family members to our services on Sunday mornings. This last area is one that I am going to commit myself to doing in the upcoming year and beyond. I am going to commit myself to becoming a better steward by inviting people who I meet out in the community and in the Greater Rochester-Area to our church, just like my friend Tony Ruffin did for me. You never know; inviting someone out to church on Sunday morning could possibly transform the trajectory of their life and their personal relationship with Christ. So—if you have been wrestling with trying to find out what you can do for your church, you can start by simply extending an invitation to your friends and family.
In conclusion, keep in mind what Jesus said to Peter and Andrew as they were standing in their boats, fishing in the Sea of Galilee. Jesus said to them, “Come follow me; and, I will make you fishers of men!”
Pastor Michael L. Sloan