I'm proud to announce we're having Friends and Family Day this Sunday at my church. In my humble opinion, it's the best, most welcoming church in all McMinnville.
I've been busy handing out invitations and encouraging people I know to come visit. The way I see it, visiting on Friends and Family Day is kind of like taking a test drive with a free meal at the end.
What I've discovered is getting folks to accept my invitation is a daunting task. My personal statistics from last year show I gave invitations to 17 people.
Of those 17, only one accepted and attended our fabulous Friends and Family Day, putting my success rate at an extremely low 5.8 percent. Not even Congress has an approval rating so low.
In handing out invitations again this year, I've learned this is not going to win me any popularity contests. Inviting a friend or a co-worker to attend church may seem like an innocent activity, but I've found, much to my surprise, it can be a contentious issue.
Here in the so-called Bible Belt, it would be my assumption folks would embrace an invitation to church, especially when casserole and banana pudding follow the service. Not so.
While some people politely decline, the majority are not so gracious. I've been told by some they would never attend a church of that denomination, then they add a few disparaging remarks.
I've been mocked by others who have laughed at my outreach efforts. Asked one, "How many of those cards do you have to hand out to get into heaven?" Another person asked if I had an invitation quota to meet.
I've also noticed over the past two years a common reaction is to be offended. Because I'm inviting them to church, the assumption is I think their life is lacking and they need to better themselves.
To me that's making a giant leap, but I can see the connection. You wouldn't invite a thin person to a Weight Watchers meeting. Therefore, I must think of their life as a carnival of sin if I'm going to invite them to church.
To that, I say I'm not Santa Claus and it's not my job to determine who is naughty or nice. I'm just extending a nudge of encouragement.
After two years of holding Friends and Family Day, I can say it's been my first-hand experience that inviting people to attend church service is not a light-hearted task. It's a challenge.
I enjoy much greater success inviting them to a football game or to a Mexican restaurant. No one questions my motives or thinks I'm judging their lifestyle.
Fortunately, I embrace a challenge and that's why I've set my sights on doubling my results and getting two people to attend this Sunday. To sweeten the pot, literally, just clip this column from today's paper for your free piece of cake following worship.
Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.