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RETURN to riverside - Sept 17


Return to Riverside Sunday will be here before we know it!  Invite your friends as we celebrate Return to Riverside on Sept 17!  Now, more than  ever, people need Jesus and a caring community where they can belong, grow and flourish.  We would like you to introduce your community to Jesus so they can experience His love and reconnect with others.  We encourage you to reach out and invite friends, neighbors and coworkers to come back to or try church for the first time.

Each week leading up to the big day, we’ll examine some of the top reasons people choose not to come to church, as well as things WE can say and/or do to convince them otherwise.

REASON #1: "I need to get right with God before I go back to church."

Think about it...would you say, "I can't go to Weight Watchers until I lose this weight," or "I can't go to the doctor until I feel better?” Probably not. The truth is, you can't “get right” with God until you “get with” God. Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Whatever it is in your life that you need to "get right," God can help you through it if you ask and trust Him.
Starting today, pray for God to give you the courage to invite at least one person each week. Ask Him to give you the words to speak and to place the right people in your path. Who will you invite to Return to Riverside on Sunday, September 17?

REASON #2: “I don’t actually need to GO to church to worship God. I can express my faith in other ways.”

It’s true, being unchurched is not necessarily synonymous with being an unbeliever. Many of us have had seasons in our lives where we took a hiatus from church. Whether it was health-related, work-related, or just an issue with “the church” in general, that doesn’t mean we stopped loving God. HOWEVER, while we absolutely can worship outside of church (and absolutely SHOULD), Hebrews 10:22-25 reminds us that we are also called to love and encourage one another and to MEET TOGETHER. Despite the “island of one” mentality so pervasive in our society, God created us to be interdependent. We need each other. Living out your faith is not always easy, and we were never meant to do it alone. God will not smite you for missing a Sunday, but being a part of the Body is living as God intended. Who will you invite to join the Riverside body of believers on Sunday, September 17th? 

REASON #3: “Why should I? The church is full of hypocrites!”

Okay, so addressing this one requires more than quoting a scripture. The key to this one is to avoid the 3 D’s: Deny, Deflect, and Dismiss. We cannot deny the fact that there are indeed hypocrites in the church. We must acknowledge the truth that nearly all of us have been guilty of hypocritical behavior at some point in our lives. We cannot attempt to deflect by pointing out the hypocrisy in other realms of society (e.g., politics, media, etc.). Remember, we are not to conform to the ways of the world (Romans 12:2). Lastly, we must not dismiss those making the claim. Our goal is not to win the argument. It is to win disciples for Christ. So, when faced with this claim, we must own that truth. We must acknowledge the hurt it can inflict, and finally, we must apologize. A simple, “I’m sorry,” can go a long way towards mending a broken heart. No, it’s not easy. It requires a tremendous amount of humility, but helping the Shepherd go after “the one” makes it worth it. Which “one” will you invite to join the flock on September 17?

REASON #4: “There’s nothing there for me and/or my family”

This one is a two-sided issue. Can the church do a better job of providing engagement opportunities for individuals and families? Sure we can. Are church veterans often guilty of stifling the growth of younger members, fearing change and the threat of feeling obsolete? Truthfully? Yes. When we allow a ministry or leadership role to revolve around one person or one group of people in perpetuity, we do the church a great disservice. We must make room at the table for new people and new ideas. HOWEVER, as the old adage goes, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. It’s easy to take your ball and go home when you’re feeling excluded or underserved; but what if you turned that angst into action? Be the change! So, the next time someone rejects your invitation to church because “there’s nothing there for me,” lovingly invite that individual to be part of the solution. “You know, you’re absolutely right. Would you be willing to serve as a volunteer?” Who will you inspire to “be the change” on September 17?

REASON #5: “I wasn’t growing or learning.”

This is also two-sided. Unfortunately, churches can sometimes focus more on developing an “enjoyable” worship experience than on developing disciples of Christ. Fortunately, we can proudly say that Riverside is committed to the intentional development of disciples through biblically sound Christian education, gracious relationships, and Christ-centered worship. However, like the old adage…you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. An individual must be open to learning and connecting with Christ. Through loving relationships, we can certainly make it easier for people to want to get to know Christ, but ultimately, it is a choice. Christ always knocks on the door. He never forces His way in. Who will you encourage to invite Him in? 

REASON #6: “No one invited me.”

One of the questions we’ve been asking as we get better acquainted with our new church family is, “What brought you to Riverside?”  When it comes to getting the word out about our church or ministry, we tend to borrow ideas from the secular world, and boy, can we be creative!  We’ve tried television and radio commercials, billboards, social media campaigns, bumper stickers, swag bags (aka welcome packets), and even those crazy (yet creepy), dancing blow-up thingies.  None of those are necessarily bad ideas.  However, the feedback from our recent home gatherings reinforces what research has been indicating all along.  People come to church because someone invited them. Christianity is all about relationships. Jesus always made time to go after “the one.”  He didn’t send them a letter or carve a sign in stone.  He went to people personally—met them where they were. And so must we.  There’s still time.  Which “one” will you invite to join us this Sunday? 

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