Make Someone Happy: Invite Them to Church

Want to improve someone’s mood? A Gallup survey showed a strong correlation between church attendance and positive emotions, even when controlling for variables like age, education, and income. People who come to church regularly are, on average, happier than people who don’t.

That could mean trouble for Alaska. In a Pew Center survey of the importance of religion in people’s lives, Alaska ranked in the bottom five states in nearly every category, and was last the category of “Worship Attendance.” If you run into someone who’s unhappy, it might not just be the lack of sunlight in our short winter days that’s got them down.

Why not invite them to church? Maybe it will perk them up!

Sometimes, Christians get confused about evangelism. They think it’s their responsibility to make converts or even to make sure their friends get into heaven. That’s not true. Only Jesus can do those things. Evangelism is just sharing good news. (Look it up, that’s what the word means.) Evangelism is just telling people what you’ve found and inviting them to check it out for themselves. (See John 1:39–51 for an example.)

People won’t think you’re weird for inviting them to church. (Unless you’re weird some other way.) Researcher Thom Rainer writes, “82 percent of the unchurched are at least ‘somewhat likely’ to attend church if they are invited. …to restate it: More than eight out of ten of the unchurched said they would come to church if they were invited.” (The Unchurched Next Door)

On top of that, Easter is the #1 most likely time for unchurched people to come to church. So invite a friend or neighbor to church next week. You might make them happy!

Here’s some things to avoid:

Incident at Anchorage First Presbyterian

Some of you may have heard about an incident this past week at First Presbyterian Church in Anchorage where a native Alaskan was (reportedly) turned away. That isn’t what actually happened, according to the people involved. They have issued a joint statement explaining what happened, which I’ve excerpted below:

The Facebook posting which led people to believe that the First Presbyterian Church of Anchorage engages in discrimination against Alaskan Natives, or people of any other nationality or ethnicity, needs to be corrected. It was a misunderstanding. … this member of First Presbyterian Church intended to be helpful…. First Presbyterian Church of Anchorage truly wishes to encourage effective ministry and fellowship among all peoples. Everyone is welcome.

You can read the full statement at Curt’s blog.

(If this incident touched a nerve in you, by the way, you may also be interested in Curt’s reports on the Gambell mission our Presbytery undertook back in March.)