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How to Help People Say NO to God

For three years, I wanted to invite my neighbor to church, but I was too afraid. 

I was scared, so I did what most of us do when we’re scared. I made excuses. Really good excuses like …

I’m just “investing” in them. 

I’m waiting for the right time.

I don’t want to be pushy.

I want to get to know them well first …

And on and on and on; I threw out every excuse in the book. Well, long story short: I was shoveling snow one Saturday when Josh, my neighbor, said, “Hey, are you preaching this Sunday?”

“Um, yea … I think so. (Insert shocked face).” 

“Cool. So do you mind texting me the address because we’re coming this week.”

“Um, yea … why are you coming?”

“Because Nikki and Amanda invited us.”

Now isn’t that something? For three years, I made excuses, but within an hour of going over to babysit, the two girls my wife recommended to our neighbors invited them to church and they said yes. 

And then they came and sat close to the front, and, sure enough, halfway through my sermon on God’s love, I looked over and Renee, my neighbor that I was scared to invite to church, was sobbing. 

She sobbed at every mention of God’s unconditional love for her.  

I don’t believe I was so scared. I don’t believe I waited three years to invite her because I was scared. I don’t believe I let “me” get in the way of what God wanted to do. 

I don’t believe I said ‘no’ for someone who would have said yes to God.

It was her first Sunday at church in years and she cried through the whole service. Then she and her family came back again. Then they came again. And again. And again. Then they joined a life group. Then they kept coming.

Then a few weeks ago, I looked behind me at church and there was my neighbor with tears on her face and her hands in the air singing, “I put my hope in you. I put my hope on your love. I put my hope on the one who is the everlasting God. You are the everlasting God.”  

That might honestly be one of my favorite ministry moments in a long time because it was incredible to see how much grace can change someone in such little time, and because for the first time in a long time, I saw what was at stake. 

In that moment, I realized that I cannot afford to keep helping people say no to God. 

What are some of your most common reasons for “helping people say no to God”?

Inadequacy? Fear, like me? Other thoughts?

P.S. Please tell me I’m not the only one in the business of helping people say no to God.  

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Sammy grew up in Nigeria. He is currently the Young Adult Pastor at North Point Church. He's also a national speaker for The Mocha Club. He lives in Ohio with his wife Ashley, daughter Bebe and saint bernards MJ and Milo.