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Preseason: Invest and Invite – Sermon Notes


Part Three: Invest and Invite
Pastor Rick Henderson                August 26-27, 2023

I recently heard a pastor talk about a question that he and his wife ask each other. It’s the kind of question that, even though I have an answer for it, I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to stop thinking about.

QUESTION: What would we like for people to line up at the end of our lives and thank us for?

How does that question hit you? If you think of your life as a kind of investment, what do you want the return on your investment to be? However, it is you think about this, whatever it is that would be on your list—your answer is the definition of a winning life for you. One day, should people express gratitude to you or for you, and they expressed gratitude for the very thing that is your answer to this question—it’s like you won at life.

I want everyone to have that kind of experience. But not everyone will. Now, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of us are uncomfortable with this question. Maybe that’s because something about it feels self-centered or self-important. If you feel that way, let me tell you a story that may cause you to see this differently. Heads up: It’s a story about a funeral, and you have permission to laugh.

Years ago, in another state, I officiated a funeral that continues to be the most awkward funeral I’ve ever seen or heard of. When you walked into the room where the service was held, there was a display of the deceased man’s artwork. What made it weird was that the artwork was nude drawings of his ex-wife, who just happened to be sitting in the front row. If you were planning on having that at your funeral—maybe don’t. Just sayin’.

Numerous people stood at the front and shared stories about the deceased man. I kid you not, the nicest thing that someone had to say was about the time the man got drunk, stole a motorcycle, and rode it through town naked. That was the nicest thing anyone had to say.

This is where it stops being funny. No one expressed appreciation for anything regarding this man. Here’s how we know that this isn’t an arrogant question. Whenever we go to a funeral of someone who lived for themselves, who only lived for what they could get, whenever we go to a funeral of someone, and there are NO stories to share of how that person impacted others or invested in others—it feels empty. It’s the kind of thing that would cause us to say to each other, “Don’t waste your life.”

At the opposite end of the spectrum, whenever we go to a funeral for someone who lived for what they could give, someone who intentionally invested in others—it feels inspiring. It feels like a full life.

You may need more time before you’re ready to answer this question. That’s OK. My hope for you is that you will wrestle down what your answer to this question is. Whatever that is, that would be the ultimate prize at the end of your life. People who live with purpose, people who live on purpose, are people who know what the prize is.

1 CORINTHIANS 9:24-27 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

The prize isn’t salvation or going to heaven. We don’t compete for that. We receive that as a gift by trusting in Jesus. We must be crystal clear on that. Once that is clear, we’re ready to hear and understand what the prize is that Paul was running for. If you’ve been here during this series, turn to someone right now and tell them the answer.

The prize is leading other people to know Jesus and follow Jesus. If there was something that Paul would have wanted folks to line up and thank him for, it was that. “Thank you for telling me about Jesus.” “Thank you for investing in me.” “Thank you for helping me grow in my faith.” “Thank you for making it easier for me to believe because of how you lived and what you shared.” That’s the prize he was running for.

If you are a follower of Jesus, the expectation is not that you simply pick something to live for and run after it. As followers of Jesus, the expectation is that we run the race that he set for us. As followers of Jesus, the expectation is that we run for the prize that he set for us. This is the prize that we are running for as a church: to lead people to be fully devoted followers of Jesus. We want people who don’t know him to know him. We want people who know him to grow in their relationship with him. That’s the prize for which we run.

If you are a follower of Jesus, if you know what it’s like to be a masterpiece—what we talked about in the last series. If you know what it’s like to be fully forgiven, fully accepted, fully loved, and fully delighted in—I’m going to tell you something you already know, but maybe in a way that you haven’t thought of before.

If you follow Jesus, it’s because someone thought HE was worth talking about and YOU were worth talking to.

Let’s try to imagine for a moment what would be different if the constellation of people in your life and the constellation of people in my life lived as though Jesus wasn’t worth talking about or we weren’t worth talking to. I’m so grateful for the people in the backstory of my life who ran in such a way as to win the prize. How about you?

This is what athletes do. They train in obscurity. They make countless pre-decisions in obscurity so that when crunch time comes, they are able to compete to win. If the prize that we want is worth more than sports, wouldn’t we do the same thing? So, this is our constant drumbeat.

SERIES THESIS: Wise people don’t just make GOOD decisions; they make PRE-DECISIONS.

We’re calling this the pre-season series because we’re using this as a season to decide which pre-decisions we are going to make. To help bring into focus the kind of pre-decisions we should make, each week of this series, we look back to the first church ever. Would you use your phone or grab a Bible and find this passage?

ACTS 2:41-47

The very first church is an example to every church, so they’re an example for our church. We’re intentionally looking at them from different angles. This is why. The better we understand what that church was about, the better we’re going to be able to understand what our church should be about.

ACTS 2:41-47 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Don’t put your Bible away or close the Bible app on your phone. Just set it aside for a second. If this church had a scouting report, it might look like this.


  • Devotion to teaching and fellowship
  • Inspiring stories of God at work
  • Generosity and humility
  • Gathered in large, public settings
  • Gathered in small, intimate settings
  • Enjoyed hospitality and good food
  • Growing in number

The devotion they shared and the unity they experienced as a church must have felt phenomenal. It must have been the best kind of relationship possible. This is so obviously true that it’s almost insulting to say it out loud. Every single one of us wants our relationships to be the best kind of relationships possible. It’s true in dating. It’s true in business partnerships. It’s true in marriage. It’s true in friendships. It’s true in church too. The best kind of relationships feel like this.

Preseason: Invest and Invite - Sermon Notes

No relationship starts here. And no relationship wanders here. If our relationships get here, and any relationship can. If our relationship with our church gets here, it’s because all sides chose to do what’s necessary to develop HIGH trust and HEALTHY expectations.

How many of you remember which component must come first: trust or expectations? That’s right. Trust must come first. We want to move at the speed of trust. Whenever we try to move faster than the speed of trust, someone tends to get hurt along the way. Do you remember what the elements of trust are?

Preseason: Invest and Invite - Sermon Notes

This is not a one-way street. Everyone involved must choose to be honest, safe, and reliable. Once we lay a foundation of trust, we’re ready to cultivate healthy expectations. This is how that happens. All sides, everyone involved, says this to each other.

Preseason: Invest and Invite - Sermon Notes

We know that the first church experienced this kind of relationship. They were devoted to each other. It was the most honest, safest, and most reliable community they had ever experienced. They were so eager to be a group of people who could count on each other that if someone had a need, somebody else would sell their own property to make sure that person was OK. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of a church like that? Let’s look at their scouting report again.


  • Devotion to teaching and fellowship
  • Inspiring stories of God at work
  • Generosity and humility
  • Gathered in large, public settings
  • Gathered in small, intimate settings
  • Enjoyed hospitality and good food
  • Growing in number

Is anyone shocked to read that this church grew every day? 3,000 people joined on day one. More and more and more joined every day after that. I want to encourage you to read through the book of Acts on your own time. That could be your own personal devotion time for a season. If you’ve never read through the book of Acts, as strongly as I can—I want to urge you to read it.

If you read Acts, you will see that we can’t simply explain the church’s growth and impact on the choices these people made. The Holy Spirit of God was at work. And yet, the church wouldn’t have grown without their participation. I want our church to be crystal clear about this. Our church cannot be healthy and growing on our own. Our effort and input aren’t enough. And God’s not going to make our church healthy and grow on his own. It’s both together.

ACTS 3:1-10

We’re going to read something together that illustrates what I’m talking about. Take out our phone or your Bible again. We are going to pick up reading where we just stopped.

ACTS 3:1-10 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

What were they filled with? Wonder and amazement. This isn’t a trick question. Were they filled with wonder and amazement because of what this guy believed, OR, were they filled with wonder and amazement because of what this guy experienced?

It’s easier to deny someone’s BELIEF than it is to deny someone’s EXPERIENCE.

I’m not trying to imply that belief isn’t important. I’m a pastor, and I’m teaching right now. What we believe is important. But what we believe isn’t what captures people’s attention as much as what we’ve experienced from the one in whom we believe.

It’s completely understandable if someone read this and thought to themselves, "This is a hoax. The man was never truly lame." And, of course, we have nothing to disprove that. There might have even been people there that day who began to question if he truly was lame to begin with. If somebody rolled down to the front in a wheelchair right now and then stood up and started dancing around, are you thinking miracle, or are you thinking fraud?

What makes this man’s story unique is that he was well-known. He sat there every day and begged for assistance. Every day he was carried in, and every day he was carried out. If he was faking, he faked it for years. Maybe he was just a good con man, and he had people in his inner circle who kept the secret. Maybe. Even if that was the truth, still a miracle occurred. What was it that radically and immediately changed his mindset? What caused him to give up his con? What caused him to abandon a victim mindset and rejoice now in ability and responsibility?

Something unexplainable happened to this guy, and the people were filled with wonder and amazement because they knew it. Something happened to this guy. And people wanted to know how to explain it. Isn’t this true?

We’re most ready to RECEIVE an explanation when we’re unable to PROVIDE an explanation.

When someone fixes something that we didn’t think could be fixed, what do we say? How did you do that? When someone accomplishes something that we didn’t think was possible, what do we say? How did you do that? We’re most ready to receive an explanation when we’re unable to provide an explanation. That’s when our curiosity is at its max. This is what I’m suggesting—we should take advantage of that intentionally.

When somebody sees the impact of God at work in your life, when your experience is undeniable and unexplainable, people are going to want an explanation from you. Let me give you some examples of ways this comes out in conversations and interactions with people.


  • So calm and peaceful when…
  • Able to smile and laugh when…
  • Able to forgive when…
  • Not bitter when…
  • Able to be grateful when…
  • Able to make it when…
  • So confident when…
  • Not freaking out when…

This is an opportunity for you to tell your story. You have a story to tell. I want to encourage you. I want to inspire you.

The best story you can tell is the one that only you can tell—YOURS.

When we experience God at work in us, that’s his part. When we are willing to tell the story so others can know, what’s our part. So far, super simple. But we’ve made it a major point of emphasis that we are doing this as a church together. So, how do we do this together? Before I give you the answer, let’s return to Acts 3 and go a little further by reading verses 11 and 12.

ACTS 3:11-12a While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. When Peter saw this, he said to them…

You can read the rest later. Peter gives another epic sermon. This is what I want us to focus on. For this guy, it was a miracle. But we could say that God did something in his life. The experience was undeniable. People wanted an explanation. Peter used that as an opportunity to preach a sermon and explain the gospel to the crowd.

Did you know that we are taking that same approach every weekend when our church gathers? We’re doing it right now. People want to know more about what you’ve experienced. You bring them to church with you. A pastor stands up and explains the gospel to the crowd. People want to know more about what you’ve experienced. You bring them to church with you. A pastor stands up and explains the gospel to the crowd.

We don’t want that to happen by accident. We want to do this intentionally. I want to introduce a pre-decision that may be new to some of us.


Invest is all about being a great friend. Be a neighbor who loves and cares about your neighbors. Be a coworker who loves and cares about your coworkers. Be a friend who loves and cares about your friends. A wasted life, an empty life is a life in which we don’t invest ourselves in the well-being of others. Invest.

Invite is straightforward. With the people in your world, with the people you care about, intentionally look for opportunities to invite them to come with you. You’ve got to hear me on this. We don’t do this because people are projects. That’s horrible. People aren’t projects. Would you write this down?

People share what they LOVE with the people they LOVE.

If you find a new restaurant, you want to tell your friends. If you find a store with the lowest prices, you want to tell your friends. No one even had to teach us this. We’ve been doing this since we were kids. People share what they love with the people they love.

Some of you are here today because somebody loves you. That person who invited you, that person who brought has experienced something that hasn’t just changed their life, it’s given them new life. And they can’t keep it to themselves. Because they care about you, they want you to experience it too. People share what they love with who they love. Let’s be a church that pre-decides that we’re going to do this.

INVEST and INVITE: “Come sit with me.”

When you invite someone, invite them to come sit with you. How does that sound?

Earlier, I talked about the best kind of relationships having HIGH trust and HEALTHY expectations. How does that intersect with today’s pre-decision to Invest and Invite?

It takes trust to invite someone to come to church with you. We have to be somewhere on this side fo the line to feel comfortable enough to bring someone to church with us. Do you know how I know it requires trust? Because you guys text me on Saturday night when you’re bringing a friend on Sunday morning. Some of you just want that extra assurance that we’re not going to do anything weird today.

I get it. I’m the same way. Years ago, in another state, Heather and I had some neighbors who we really loved. We loved the friendships. One of those friendships is still strong today. We would have loved for them to come to church with us. But they never seemed interested. One Sunday I got up to preach, and I spotted 2 of our neighbors in the back row. I had my own freak out moment. I didn’t want the pastor to say anything dumb and I was the pastor.

It takes trust. But it doesn’t just take trust of the person with the microphone. It means trusting each other. We’re trusting that all the people serving on Guest Services are friendly and helpful. We’re trusting the team in Kids Ministry to make it as easy as possible to check in a kid for the first time, giving parents a sense of confidence that their kiddos are well taken care of. We’re not just trusting the hundreds of awesome volunteers we have. We’re trusting each other to live out our value of honoring guests enthusiastically. We trust that hospitality and kindness is a big deal to all of us.

What I’m talking about is the intersection of HIGH trust and HEALTHY expectations. It’s the best kind of relationship possible.

We’re in this race and want to be a church that is running after the prize together. Our mission is lead people to be fully devoted followers of Jesus. That’s why we exist. Our vision answers the question of what we want to be like. It’s aspirational. Our vision is to be a church of all cultures where curious, skeptical, and hurting people love to attend. Would write this down and think about it with me.

OUR vision will be OUR vision when it’s OUR vision.

A church that is able to run in such a way as to win, is a church that runs together. Here are two next steps for us to consider.


  1. Pre-decide that our vision is our vision.
  2. Pre-decide to INVEST and INVITE.

I started off by asking you a question. What do you want people to line up and thank you for at the end of your life. Individually, there are going to be some differences in our answers. Collectively, I’m hoping and I’m praying there is unity in our answer. May we be a collection of people who would say to us, “Thank you for investing in me. Thank you for inviting me. Thank you for helping me know and follow Jesus.”