As a pastor, I’ve struggled with how to end our church services. While it is great to see people respond to the Gospel, I feel that everyone needs a chance to respond to what they have heard. Typically, the only people that are asked to respond are people who don’t know Jesus, but I wanted to open up our invitation time at Cornerstone for more than just salvation. Back in 2008, I shared about a church that I visited that had a unique response time. Since then, I’ve been praying and planning. At the start of this year, we kicked off a new response time at Cornerstone. This is how we describe it on our website.
At Cornerstone, we want to help you grow in your faith. So after each service, we want to give you a chance to respond to these two questions.
- What is God saying to me?
- What am I going to do about it?
We give you the opportunity to respond in several different ways. Sing, Decide, Pray, Talk, Remember, and Give
Any time we gather together to learn from God’s Word, we should be moved to respond. As we learn and grow, our lives are shaped to be more like Jesus in thought and in action. In Acts 2, we see that after hearing a powerful message from Peter, the crowd was moved to respond. So for almost 8 months at Cornerstone, we have given everyone a chance to respond each week.
We made several changes to our service flow. We now do fewer songs at the beginning of our worship service, and more at the end, so that we have a longer time to respond. I feel that singing more after the message really helps us respond in praise and worship. We also now offer communion each week. One of the most powerful response opportunities has been our prayer box at the cross. We invite people to write out their prayer requests and leave them at the cross. Each week the elders pray over the responses and we have seen God move through many circumstances. To help newcomers understand our response time, we have placed a card in the seat pockets to explain what we do and why we do it.
I love seeing people changed by the power of the Gospel, and that includes not just new believers, but mature Christians. I couldn’t imagine doing it differently, I just wish we would have started sooner.