There’s a party happening. It’s actually going to be one HEAVEN of a party, because the invitation was extended from the Creator of the universe. And the good news is that everyone is invited.
This one idea—that God is throwing a party for everyone—could potentially change how we see the world around us.
What if you started acting like everyone is invited to the party?
Think about it. How would that one idea change your relationship with people you meet every day? Not only is everyone around you created in the image of God, but everyone is invited to be a guest at God’s party.
Stop and consider this for a moment. What if you were invited to a party by Oprah? That’s guaranteed to be some party, right? And the day before the party you run into someone at the grocery store who you find out is also invited to the party. How do you see them? How do you treat them? How do you talk to them? Doesn’t it change your attitude toward them when you know they have been invited to the same party by someone as important as Oprah?
Imagine what would happen if we…
- began to look at every individual as if they were invited to God’s party.
- invited people who are different than us to our table to start celebrating.
- hosted those who are marginalized and vulnerable in our world as special guests.
- organized our time to create the kind of spaces that give people hope.
There has never been a more important time in history than right now to start acting like we believe everyone is invited to the party.
JESUS changed the rules. JESUS re-arranged the VIP list. JESUS invited everyone. This is the mindset we should have when we approach the world around us. Turn to the person next to you and say: “Did you know you’re invited to the party? Yeah. Even you.”
The next generation needs to hear this. The kids and teenagers you are leading need to get this. They need to know they are invited. They need to know everyone in their school is invited. They need to know their neighbors are invited. They need to know the people they meet on the street are VIPs.
One of the reasons this generation has become disillusioned with the church is because too many of us act like everyone is NOT invited.
When we segregate the Gospel when we…
- discriminate against those who don’t look like us.
- eliminate those who don’t measure up to us.
- isolate ourselves from anybody who doesn’t believe like us.
The Gospel doesn’t segregate; it integrates. And, one day we will all be integrated in the same kingdom, in the same room, at the same table because of the Gospel.
What if we started acting like the party has already started and everyone is invited?
If we do that…
- we stand a better chance of handing our kids and teenagers a version of church and a version of faith they will give their lives for.
I believe you are surrounded by a generation of party starters. They don’t want you to tell them what to believe. They want you to give them something to do. They want you to put them in charge of something. They want you to help them launch something.
This generation doesn’t want another church service with three songs and a sermon. They want a life-changing, risk-taking adventure. This generation doesn’t want more programs. They want to experience what God can do through them.
You know what this generation wants? They want what Jesus promised in John 10:10 when He said, “I have come that you might have life—and have it to the full.”
- deeper connections.
- richer experiences.
- a bigger God.
They want life the way God intended. They don’t want a religion that is defined by the exclusive attitude of the Pharisees. They want a relationship characterized by the inclusive nature of Jesus. They want a party.
A few years ago, I hosted a meeting with a dozen key leaders who led influential ministries and churches around the country. I asked a simple question, “If I gave you a dozen ninth graders for four years, and you could do anything you wanted to do to disciple them, what would you do?” For a few hours, we brainstormed and collected ideas. What was most interesting to me is what didn’t get put on the board. No one said “more Bible studies” or “better worship.”
When the meeting was over, we summarized the evening with a simple phrase.
“If you want to disciple teenagers then give them consistent opportunities to serve others, and coach them while they are doing it.”
We are programmed to think if you read your Bible more, if you go to church more, if you pray more, if you debate theology more, then you will discover how to have a full and meaningful life.
But the truth is, you can do all of those things and still live a pretty empty life. Just ask Jesus. The Pharisees were model believers. And yet Jesus referred to them as “whitewashed tombs which appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones.” We keep acting like discipleship is about information, but discipleship has always been about a relationship.
Faith is not meant to be memorized or recited, it is meant to be lived. The cure for the skepticism of this generation has less to do with winning an intellectual argument and more to do with celebrating how we should love each other.
What would happen if you started asking these questions as a leader? How often do you give this generation opportunities to serve their neighbor? How frequently do you prioritize gatherings so they can enjoy being together? How do you help kids celebrate the unique aspects of each other’s story?
Recently I decided I’m going to start hanging out with ninth graders again. At my age, I’m hoping I’ll make it to their graduation. That’s why I have been spending a few weeks re-thinking what I would tell them. I’ve been writing down some principles that I see in people who have a dynamic faith. They are relentless in how they choose to love and serve other people, and it has a powerful effect on their faith and influence. They are passionate about how they invite others to join the party and love their neighbors. They’re party starters and they can’t wait to start the party.
If you and I could spend some quality time together, I think we would find it easy to agree on this one thing: How you lead kids and teenagers to love others will determine their faith and future.
This article originally appeared here.