Last Sunday we announced a goal for St. Luke’s this year: 2020 in 2020. We want to increase our number of first time guests from 1,388 in 2019 to 2,020. To do this we will have to increase our number of invitations to people to join us at St. Luke’s. Studies show that for every 7-10 invites, one is received. What can be the difference for that one? Let me share my story.
When I was 12 years old my family moved into a larger home on the other side of town. We didn’t change cities, but it was far enough to have to change schools and make all new friends. Next door was a boy several years older than me. He invited me to the Boy Scout troop that just so happened to meet in a Methodist Church basement. That became not only an introduction to scouting but also church. I found a community of support that put me on a path I’m still walking today.
Early on in scouts I was mentored by a Senior Patrol Leader (SPL) who took me under his wing and taught me important skills like tying knots, lighting a one-match fire, cooking in the field, finding food in the forest, etc. After several years and increased rank I became an SPL. On my first camping trip with this new rank, we went to the mountains in November. It got down to 20 degrees that night. The next morning I was the second one up. The first was a brand new “tenderfoot,” a 12 year old boy on his first camping trip. He was sitting by a fire pit of ashes crying. I asked what was wrong and he told me how cold he had been all night. He wanted a fire but he didn’t know how to start one. I showed him how and we got a warm fire going. I covered him in some blankets and checked his tent. His sleeping bag was for summer. It had a rating of about 40 degrees. The poor fellow froze all night.
I took him under my wing from then on. He was mine. I taught him all the skills that had been taught to me. By the time I graduated out of scouting he became an SPL. On one of my last scout meetings I watched him in the distance teaching a new tenderfoot how to tie knots.
I didn’t know it at the time but I was learning about discipleship. Following Jesus begins with an invitation, but then it means getting around people who take us under their wing. They teach us how to read the Bible, ways to pray, how to turn to others for help and encouragement and then turn us loose to do the same for others.
My entry into Christian faith, and now ministry, started in a church basement because someone invited me to a scout meeting. There is no limit to what God will use to draw us to Him. What I learned many years ago I still try to live by: On my honor I will do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.