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My friend didn't invite me to church

An old black and white photo of First Baptist Church Houston, downtown on Lamar Street, taken in the 1970s (Credit: Houston First Baptist Church via Houston Chronicle)I was raised in Houston, TX by parents who were not Christians. Throughout my childhood, Mom, Dad and I would leave on Friday afternoon for our lake cabin, near Bay City, Texas to hunt and fish nearly every waking moment, returning home late on Sunday evening.

As a near 17-year-old, playing football at my high school in Houston, Texas, my best friend and fellow athlete, Henry, was a Christian. He was concerned for me; although he never pushed, he showed deep compassion toward me.

That summer, he told me about a citywide, youth-led revival being held at FBC in downtown Houston. All-American basketball player, Jack Robinson, from Baylor was to speak that evening. Now, had Henry just invited me, I probably never would have darkened the door of that revival, but he said: "I want you to go with me tonight; I will pick you up at 6:15pm." He personally took me, and sat with me. We talked a long time about the Lord after that service. Together, we attended every service through Saturday evening!

On Saturday morning, Henry called to say he wanted to take me to see his dad who was working by himself that morning in his office at the Commerce Building in downtown Houston. Walking in, he said: "Dad, I have brought Bailey to you; he is under conviction, and I know you can lead him to Jesus!" Mr. A.C. SoRelle Sr., an Independent Oil Operator, pushed his papers aside, and lovingly led me to Jesus! The next day, Henry took me to his Sunday School class, and to church; Second Baptist Church in Houston. That morning, as a newborn Christian, I joined, and was baptized a week later.

A short time later, the Lord called me into ministry at Palacious Baptist Encampment. Five years later, I was a junior at Baylor, preaching at Second Baptist Houston in a weekend youth revival when my mom and dad came forward to receive Jesus, dramatically changing their lives!

This is why Dr. Denison's article moved me deeply regarding the declining numbers of adults as well as young people who seldom attend church today. He urged churches to be proactive in loving witness to people with whom we come in contact every day, as well as going out to visit them in their homes. This is biblical, and has not changed! Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 clearly define our task!

Dr. Denison also emphasized taking people with us to church, not just inviting them to attend! There is nothing wrong with inviting, but from my experience, and Jim's too, bringing a friend to church is far more effective. These are vital keys in lovingly reaching unbelievers in these perilous times.

We can learn from Andrew's response in John 1:41-42, "The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus." Note that when Andrew found Jesus, he then found his brother, Simon Peter and BROUGHT him to Jesus!

Who can you bring to church with you this Sunday?

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