John 4:39-42

Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there for two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”

Briefly, but importantly, notice that pattern of what unfolds in the Samaritan woman’s exchange with her neighbors and community members.

First there is her testimony – “He told me everything I have ever done” or, to generalize, “this is what God did for me.” Then, invitation. Her testimony gets her neighbors curious and invites them to discover Jesus for themselves. They accept this invitation by asking him to stay with them for two days. Finally, experience. Having experienced Jesus for themselves, they come to their own faith: “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves.”

Testimony, invitation, experience. The pattern hasn’t changed much in two thousand years. If we want to see our faith communities grow, it’s probably not that hard. We need to be able to share what God has done for us, invite people to come along with us to worship and congregational life, and accompany them as they experience God for themselves.

Can we do it? Can we afford not to try?

Prayer: Dear God, inspire and equip us to share our testimony, invite others to our faith communities, and in these ways help people experience your love and grace firsthand. In Jesus’ name, Amen.