A Simple Invitation

It all started with a simple invitation. In late November, Don Chencho Ibarra from a tiny little rancho in Mexico posted a video on Facebook inviting everyone from his rural community to the quinceañera of his daughter Ruby. (A quinceañera is an elaborate version of our American sweet sixteen parties.)

Don Chencho wanted only the best for his daughter. He promised that three local bands would play. Horse races would be held with a prize of $500. He vowed to feed everyone who came.

Chencho didn’t know what he was getting himself into. The video went viral. People found his open invitation both funny and endearing. Within two weeks, 1.2 million people confirmed on Facebook they would attend the event.

Don Chencho and Ruby became national and international darlings. A major Mexican airline offered a 30% discount on fares to the nearest airport. Celebrities and millionaires offered to help pay for the event. The gifts began to pour in, including a new car.

As the day approached, no one knew what to expect. How many people would actually show up? The governor brought in a special security detail. On December 26, 2016, over 20,000 people attended Ruby’s quinceañera in the tiny rural community of La Joya, San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Media from around the world were in attendance.

And it all started with a simple invitation.

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said to four fishermen on the shores of the Sea of Galilee – a simple invitation which also went viral.

In its essence, the gospel is an invitation. Come and see. Come and find in Jesus forgiveness. Come and find in him rest for your souls. Come and receive the inheritance he won for you.

You are cordially invited to the wedding banquet of heaven. If you are a Christian, you already know that. But God’s invitation is an open invitation. All are invited. There is room for everyone. The invitation is meant to be shared.

In our age of social media, many Christians share that invitation over the internet. They share and like Christian videos and articles on Facebook which can be seen by millions of people.

I often wonder how much difference such posts and threads on Facebook really make. They so easily get lost in the white noise. People see them one minute and forget them the next. Such is the fickle nature of social media.

Over one million people said they would attend Ruby’s quinceañera. Only 20,000 actually showed up. In a few months, hardly anyone will remember Don Chencho and his charming invitation.

In the end, the best invitations continue to be personal invitations – one beggar taking another beggar by the hand and leading him to the soup kitchen, one sinner telling another where to find forgiveness.

Don’t be content simply sharing or liking Christian messages on social media. According to most polls, over 80% of those who don’t go to church regularly say they would attend if a friend or acquaintance personally invited them.

So call up your friend, your cousin, your hunting buddy and invite them to go to church with you. Tell them you’ll pick them up. Tell them you’ll sit with them. Obviously, that’s not as easy as sharing a post on Facebook, but in the end it may make all the difference.

It all starts with a simple invitation.