Tomorrow is Friend Day at our church, and I think that matters. I know it’s not the most important thing we can do. I do understand the ongoing debate about missional verses attractional evangelism. I’m aware that some people will come to church just as a one-time visit who are not interested in becoming a part of our church. I know it’s been around a long time and it might be gathering some evangelical dust at this point. Even so, I am convinced that having a Friend Day is a great step for our church.
The timing of Friend Day is always a matter of concern. For many churches the holidays bring a large number of absentees who are on the road traveling. And we have a traveling congregation – many of our members are gone on any given Sunday. So we want to avoid a holiday weekend for sure (like last weekend). Summertime is also the time to travel, especially if you have kids because they are out of school. So I wouldn’t plan a Friend Day in the summertime. This weekend is specifically targeted because of these type of issues. We are on a weekend following a travel weekend. There is school Monday – so parents are not as likely to have their kids on the road (especially if they traveled last weekend). These and a few more reasons have Outreach Magazine calling this ‘Back to Church’ Sunday.
Friend Day demonstrates the power of influence. I am sure most of us underestimate the influence we have in our lives. Perhaps within your circle of friends there is someone who would like to know Jesus Christ as you do, but who has kept that to themselves. Perhaps there is someone who is only vaguely interested in church, but with a little nudge from you they could become much more interested.
Friend Day rattles our cage a bit. It is so easy to settle into a routine … a rut … and we need something to re-energize our spiritual activity. If we accept the challenge to talk to friends, neighbors, coworkers, fellow students, and strangers about coming to church on one day then we have accomplished something great. All of the really important things we do start with a word. Friendship, discipleship, teaching, love, service – all begin with a few friendly words. If we decide to open up our eyes to the people around us and regard them as souls who need what God has to offer, then that drags us out of the routine and into new and exciting relationships.
Friend Day reminds us of important things. I believe it was Marvin Phillips who used to say that we have the only news that everyone needs to hear. We talk about so many inane things with friends. That’s the way we relax and enjoy the company of others. But at some time or another we need to talk about the really important things – the things that have to do with our souls. If you are not already trying to do that, it can be awkward to just bring it up. The fact that your church is having a Friend Day, however, gives you a natural reason to bring church into the conversation. Now don’t let that be the end of it! Let that be a new beginning! How many friends do you have who have never heard you speak of Jesus the Christ?
Friend Day gives us a fresh start. Tomorrow morning we will have many new faces surrounding us. Some are just there to visit for one day, and we welcome that. Others, however, are looking for a fresh start in their lives. When we embrace them and invite them into the Family of God, two things happen. They get to make a new start with new friends, a new family of believers, and renewed spiritual interest. In addition, we get to have a fresh start with new friends, new opportunities to serve, and the opportunity to show Christ’s love in new ways.
Yes, Friend Day can sound kind of gimmicky, kind of old-school, kind of unspiritual in some ways. But I believe the good FAR outweighs these perspectives. And that’s all they are. Jesus wants us to make disciples – and there are many doorways into obeying that command. Though not the only one, Friend Day is a very good one.