Rosewood, TX -- “I’d like to ask our musicians to come forward for the invitation time,” said Pastor Robert Spain as he stepped down from the stage’s podium toward the end of the aisle. “Now is the time for decisions. The Lord may be dealing with you… yes… you,” he so eloquently ponders.
Like most churches on Sunday morning, Delilah Baptist Church in Rosewood, Texas has an official Invitation Time on the program. It has been a tradition for the last 45 years. On any given Sunday, around 10 people are moved to walk the aisle and make a decision for the church. Not bad for a church with an average attendance of 75.
“Everyone take a decision card from the bulletin,” Pastor Spain always begins. “We want to encourage you-- don't hesitate. Heed the invitation now. Feel free to bring your unfilled card. You can fill it out later. I and the deacons are awaiting your decisions. Just as you are, come now.” That is the pianist’s signal to begin playing Just As I Am.
The decision card this week contains invites for sanctuary cleaning, lawn mowing, cantata planning, Sunday School teaching, and Fall Festival decorating. Two men come forward even before the first official invitation. This will be a good day.
“We have decided to start having a regular sanctuary cleaning night on Tuesdays from seven to eight. Please place a checkmark in the appropriate box and be sure to check the preferred dates if you are able to help. We need your help.”
Just As I Am continues to play as Pastor Spain watches the crowd. “I can feel a real movement here. Folks are being dealt with as we sing. Don’t stay in your seat any longer. Make a decision for the church.”
“Today, we want to invite you to volunteer to help with Sunday School teaching. Won’t you come? You don’t need any special talents. We’ll train you. Please help us out.”
Four people step out into the aisle and make their way toward the pastor.
“Can you cut grass? We need your help. I want to invite you to serve the Lord in this way. Make a decision today. Won’t you? Can you bring a can of gas? Can you sweep sidewalks? Any help would be appreciated.”
Three young boys stop texting, drop their phones on the pew, and step out into the aisle. A father says, “Amen.” A mother begins to weep.
“Can you sing? Do you like Christmas? There’s a spot this week for signing up to help with the Christmas Cantata. I want to invite you to help. The deacons are waiting. I’m waiting. Let the pot roast burn for all I care, we need to get the Lord’s business taken care of right now. Won’t you come? If you’ll just walk this aisle and shake my hand or the hand of a deacon, we’ll find a place for you.”
A small crowd of 7 women slowly forms on the left side of the stage.
After things quite down and cards have been filled out and placed in Pastor Spain’s bible, he concludes by reminding everyone, “You’re also invited to the fellowship lunch. If you’d like to stay afterward and help clean up, just let me know. I’m sure we can find something for you to do.”