- Phone: (706) 548-2246
- Mailing Address: 2390 West Broad Street, Athens, GA 30606
Go into the highway and hedges, and compel them to come in,
that my house may be full.”
—Jesus, Luke 14:23
In January 2006, atheist Hemant Mehta posted a very unusual auction on eBay. The atheist offered to attend worship services as directed by the highest bidder. The whole idea of "selling your soul on eBay" got a lot of attention and Jim Henderson, a minister from Seattle, posted the winning bid of $504. The two struck up a friendship and Hemant ultimately visited fifty churches in four states. This eventually led to a published book by Mehta in April 2007 titled, I Sold My Soul on eBay. The book contains Mehta's observations and critiques of the churches. One enlightening observation by Mehta was the lack of initiated conversation by those he met in the churches he attended. Although he was regularly greeted and given a bulletin, nobody in any of the 50 churches initiated a conversation with him. He took the initiative several times and people responded appropriately, but not once did church people initiate conversation. Hemant Mehta identifies himself as the "friendly atheist." His kind demeanor and unusual experience with churches has exposed a glaring blind spot that needs attention.
Let this never be said of us at Beech Haven—they failed to take the initiative.
God set the example on initiative. When Adam and Eve sinned, God came after them, uninvited, and sought to redeem them (Gen 3:7—9). Jesus saw Zacchaeus and invited Himself to His home, explaining “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Without invitation, Paul went to Pisidia Antioch, Thessalonica, Corinth, Ephesus, or Athens to speak the words of life (Acts 13—21).
Beginning Sunday afternoon at 4:15 p.m. September 23, Beech Haven will take the initiative. We will revive GROW Outreach. On September 16, I will ask our people to give us up to (and no more than) two hours on Sunday afternoons at 4:15 p.m., one hour at a time, between September 23 and November 25, to write cards or letters, make calls, or make visits for outreach. Participants will choose for themselves whether to write, call, or visit. We will seek to reach guests, absentees, and new movers to the Athens region. An experienced person will assist participants.
Besides GROW Outreach, we want to take the initiative with our guests. The 3-10-20 rules for are enormously helpful—spend 3 minutes with someone you do not know before and after the service, greet anyone within 10 feet, and shake 20 hands before and after the service. On Sunday, October 7, I will take a few minutes after the worship service to provide feedback and instruction arising from a report “mystery shoppers” provided about guest hospitality.
Friends, it is time to get moving. Time to get unstuck. Time to make a difference, an eternal difference, in someone else’s life. For Christ’s sake, let’s take the initiative.
I Stand Amazed