This post was written by Cera Talamantes, a member of the INCM Blog team.
The determination on her face was intense as this second grader was working on a handmade church invitation for her best friend.
With the tip of her tongue sticking out the corner of her mouth and her brows furrowed in concentration, she carefully wrote “You’re Invited” on the front of the empty card she was decorating.
There were confetti, glitter glue, and crayons everywhere as the Sunday morning class loudly and joyfully worked on this activity.
We had been talking about the importance of outreach that day.
What it means to go beyond ourselves, beyond our walls to seek, serve, and love those who had not come yet.
We watched as we dropped rocks into a pool of water and the ripples spread out across the water.
The leader explained that these ripples are a good example of the effects of God’s love when we intentionally share it with others.
Most of the kids saw this as a great opportunity to be creative and have fun, but there was one who was extra dedicated.
I sat next to the determined decorator and asked her who was so special to receive something she was working on so diligently.
“My best friend from school and she lives across the street. We talk about Jesus a lot, and she really wants to get to know Him more so she can be His friend too, but her mom and dad don’t go to church. So…I’m going to invite THEM!”
She was giddy with excitement, and I realized quickly I was in the way of the glitter glue she needed.
I stepped back and watched as she completed the masterpiece.
She carefully watched the glue dry before walking out the door, invitation in hand.
As she left the building and made it out to the parking lot, I caught a glimmer of glitter in the sun, and I prayed for God to be with her as she went on this mission.
Two weeks later she bounded into class, hand in hand with her best friend.
For months, each Sunday, this pair would come to worship and grow together.
When midweek groups started up in the spring, not only did the student bring her best friend, but the friend’s brother started to tag along!
Nine months after the invitation was first delivered, I watched as two best friends walked into church hand in hand, with ALL their families behind them.
Tears filled my eyes as she shared that this was the first time her WHOLE family, mom, dad, brother, and she had gone to church together.
Turns out that handmade invitation still hangs on the fridge of that neighboring family.
Outreach can feel like a daunting and overwhelming task.
At times we may be looking at the big picture of outreach and allow ourselves to get caught up in the big events, having the most dates on the calendar, and reaching the highest attendance numbers.
When we focus on that, we lose sight of the bigger and better picture that God has planned and already accomplished.
The ripple effects of that one simple, handmade, glitter-covered invitation had a lasting impact on so many families at our church and is an incredible example of the importance of determination, intention, and faith.
Kids always astound me in how they prove they are already amazing leaders in our church.
Where our leadership team discussed the best approaches to outreach, this second grader gave us the best example of living it out.
Her determination to not give up, the intention she showed in making sure they were welcomed even before they stepped in the door, and the faith she had were so Jesus would be a best friend to all of them one day.
And oh, what an amazing BEST friend Jesus is!
Cera Talamantes has served in ministry for over a decade, volunteering in different areas but was called most to preschool and children’s ministry. Cera and her husband, Joseluis, have two incredible kids. Their family loves spending time together making lasting memories and having crazy Uno game nights.