All In - Week One: Invited

Today we're going to launch a new sermon series entitled "All In!" This series is going to help us see more clearly how we can live an "all in" kind of life as we seek to follow Jesus together.  

Over the course of the next few weeks we're going to be learning what it means to be Invited, Included, Involved and Invested not only in our church family, but also in the family of God.

Today we will focus on what it means to be Invited. 

Invitations come in all sorts of forms, don't they? 

We receive a lot of invitations via email don't we?  Invitations to buy things, follow people on social media, donate money to causes, attend events that, interest us, and a host of other things. 

But when it comes down to it, what kinds of invitations are the most effective?  

I did a little research this week and this is what I  found out.  

The most effective kinds of invitations are ones that are:  Personalized and Intentional.  

When I say personalized, what I mean is this.  "What was yesterday is today."  Research shows that a personalized, hard copy invitation to an event, party, etc. is way more effective than any electronic version. 

And a personalized face-to-face invitation is even more effective than anything in an envelope.  

Effective invitations are also ones that are intentional.  

Hallmark cards used this slogan for years, "When you care to send the very best."  People who receive our invites know when they were intentionally included and when they were just part of a list. 

And both of this factors work in conjunction with the event itself to convey a message of welcome and a desire for someone's presence at said event.  

You see, when it matters to us---we want others to share it.  

When you have a major life event, a milestone birthday, your kid's graduation, a wedding, a baby shower, and the like, you want the people who are important to you there to share it with you. 

People know how much something matters to you when you invite them properly to be a part of it.  They instinctively know that it's important and that they should be there. 

The story we're going to be exploring today from John chapter 4 is the story of a woman who had her life transformed because she encountered Jesus, and experienced grace and peace in his presence.  

And then the first thing she wanted to do was to tell everyone in her village about him, and let them meet him, too.  

Here's the one thing that I want us to hold on to today as we journey together through the sermon: 


John 4 - select verses 

Jesus and his disciples are heading back to Galilee from the villages and towns surrounding Jerusalem, and they take the shortest route which takes them through enemy territory, so to speak. 

A bit about why they hate each other

So Jesus and the disciples stop at a town called Sychar Jesus sits down by the town well, and his disciples go into the village to buy food.  Let's pick up the story at this point: 

7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a])

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

Not only do Jews and Samaritans not get along, but in the ancient first, century a Jewish rabbi would not want to speak to an unaccompanied woman. It would have been a cultural faux pas. 

And why was the woman there in the heat of the day, when it was the custom for people, primarily women, to gather water in the morning and evening when it was cooler?

There are a lot of theories about this. Still, one that persists is that she was a woman who had a bit of a reputation (as we will see in a moment). She went to the well then because she couldn't take the sideways looks, hateful comments, and overall shunning she'd experience if she went when everyone else did. 

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

17 “I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

The conversation just got real, didn't it?  Jesus mystically sees through her and gets right to the heart of the matter--the shame that she felt, the trapped life she was leading, the pain and heartbreak.  It's a holy Sherlock Holmes moment. 

At this point, the woman decides to change the subject.  She tries to start a theological argument with Jesus about Jews and Samaritans, but Jesus doesn't bite.

 He reveals who he is to her, and she finally lets down her guard and just receives the grace that he offers to her.  

So her life is transformed in that moment.  A strange rabbi who knew all of her secrets spoke gently and lovingly to her, showing her what it meant to be forgiven and forgive herself.  And she was set free at last.  

28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

The first thing she does when Jesus changes her life is to go back to her village and begin excitedly telling everyone she meets that this strange rabbi has changed her life.  Because he saw her.  He spoke to her.  He offered grace.  And he revealed to her that she was beloved by God and had no reason to live in shame and guilt.  

Then we get this short sentence at the end of the story: 

39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.”

When Jesus changes your life, you can't help but want others to experience the same thing.

So how do we make Inviting a habit?  This kind of habit enables us to invite others to experience what we're experiencing.  This habit gives you the courage and peace to ask a friend you care about to come to church with you some Sunday.  

Or the kind of habit that makes us open to moments when we can extend personalized, intentional invitations to friends and loved ones to join us on mission opportunities, community service, meaningful worship, spiritual growth and so much more. 

The Woman at the Well gives us an example: 

Believe—like her, you believe that your invitation could change someone’s life. 

Go—just as the woman did, we desire to meet people where they are, don’t wait for them. 

Ask—like the woman did with her fellow villagers, we can invite people to join us in our journey and be vulnerable and open as we do it. 

What are some practical everyday ways to let others know they're invited?

Make a list of people you think would thrive in your family of faith, and then find ways to be personal and intentional with your invites. 
For every event, program, mission, or service project that you participate in, think of someone that isn't part of our church to attend with you. 
Wear a church shirt---they open conversations with the people in your life. 

And here's what every single one of us can do when there are guests who come to worship with us, attend a class, serve in mission, etc. 

Make them feel welcome.  Ask them to lunch.  Sit with them on Sunday.  Put that whole believe, go, ask thing into action because if it matters to you, you want to share it.  



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