by Pastor Dan Christian
My family started attending Evergreen SGV in the summer of 1998, as a young-married couple with our not-quite-two-year-old daughter. We had moved down from Oregon, in order to serve with Asian American Christian Fellowship on the campus of Cal Poly Pomona. We came to SoCal knowing only one person—my wife’s sister, Josie—and Josie invited us to Evergreen SGV. Though we fully intended to check out other churches also, God had other plans, and after visiting for awhile at Evergreen SGV, we decided to make that our church home.
So why did we “stick” at Evergreen SGV? What made the difference for us? While undoubtedly there were several factors, one major reason was that people took the initiative to reach out to us and help us get connected. Doug & Joann Franklin, Eugene & Kathy Chung, and others from the Diamond Bar Branch (led by Elliott Snuggs), invited us to their summer BBQ, where I discovered I wasn’t the only Caucasian guy in the church =), and we got to fellowship with other families who were also just beginning the journey of parenting children. Not only did they invite us to the BBQ, but they kept inviting us to their Branch and into their homes, and we became good friends (and those friendships continue to this day, despite changes in location and church home for some of them).
One of the foundational values that we as a church family must embrace, in order to foster the kind of connectedness that leads to spiritual maturity, is that of taking initiative. We cannot merely be people who sit back and wait for others to come to us. Rather, we need to take the initiative to identify and seek out those who are new, and then to initiate conversation, to invite them to the group(s) we’re involved with, to share a meal (or coffee) with them, and to find out how we can minister to them.
Here’s a challenge for you: this coming Sunday (in fact, this whole summer, if you will), before you cluster up with your friends or hide out with your iPhone or rush off to your ministry assignment, pause for 2 minutes and look around you. Ask God to open your eyes to see someone who might be in need of a word of encouragement or a friend to listen or even just a cheerful smile. Then initiate! Give that word—be that friend—bless someone with your smile! Who knows…that person whom you greet or invite may end up sticking at Evergreen SGV for the next 16+ years simply because you took the initiative to help them connect.