Thursday, September 29, 2011

#221 Saying "I'd like to invite you to..."


"I’d like to invite you to" is a standard phrase in Christian culture. It frequently surfaces during the pre-sermon announcements or the post-sermon wrap-up, and it is a staple in the vernacular of church planting pastors, especially within Acts 29. It is used most often when the pastor is soliciting such things as prayer, church event attendance, and tithes. It is a subtle way to apply a remarkable amount of pressure. The subversive hard sell, if you will.

"I’d like to invite you to" is often followed by the words "prayerfully consider." It manages never to feel like a true invitation, however. "I'd like to invite you to" is too often churchspeak for "This is what you should do if you're on God's side."

(Can be used interchangeably with "I would challenge you to," though this usually references immaterial things like quiet time schedules, attitude adjustments and Every Man’s Battle meetings.)

34 comments:

amy said...

Which in my head I would often edit "I'd like to invite YOU to fuck off" or "think for yourself". Fundie kid never did like feeling that emotional manipulation thing.

dj pomegranate said...

"I would challenge you to" makes me a little bit stabby.

LKT said...

Oh, Amen to this! [{shudder}]

Jonesy said...

In Church of Christ, works get you to heaven. So basically every sermon ends with "I'd like to challenge you..." because there are X infinity amount of things you are certainly not doing right.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, i fail to see your issue with this. Would you rather not be invited to do things? What would you say instead?

stephy said...

I'd prefer not to be manipulated by a false invitation without relationship, for starters.

the Reporter said...

it's not eye candy, but it's an improvement.

this isn't quite the same thing, but it calls to mind that in our church we were always told (before a dressing down) that we were being approached "out of a spirit of love". It always struck me that, if that were true, the need to reiterate it might not have been as keen.

@anonymous: it's not the wording. it's the fact that someone who wouldn't invite you to their house for dinner or out for a beer or to a pickup basketball game or to the colts' game with their extra season ticket feels that they need to invite you to some goddamn religious event that their church is having because they care so deeply about you.

Anonymous said...

I prefer the variations "I would just invite you..." or "I would just challenge you..." Christian culture LOVES the word 'just'. It implies a) a false humility of purpose and b) an indication that the inviter\challenger could ask you o do a lot more, but is making a simple request to give away more of your money or find an accountability partner to help guilt you into not touching your junk.

Anonymous said...

The wording is a way to shame you. It's not an authentic invitation or even an invitation. They are saying you need to do this or else. It is so disgusting. It reminds me of the scene in "Bridesmaids, "we'd like to invite you not to live with us anymore." Wow. I would like to invite you not to be an insecure douche.

stephy said...

Stuff Christian Culture Likes #104: Saying "just" a lot when praying out loud http://www.stuffchristianculturelikes.com/2011/03/104-saying-just-lot-while-praying-out.html

Chris said...

Hey everybody,

Long-time reader, first-time commenter here...The issue for me is that Christians have a tremendously difficult time being honest with themselves and others, and this trend appears in these little canned wordings that attempt to provide others with the semblance of piety and wisdom--as in, "This person really knows what they're talking about!" or, "This person is really spiritual." It lacks substance, though, and it pains me to see people admit to this lack indirectly whenever someone transcends their small church-world by actually doing something with their lives (and their brains). It's as if there's always a proverbial wink-wink and fingers crossed with respect to any commitment because everyone cynically admits to themselves (whether they say it) that their culture ain't that grand.

Still Breathing said...

Chris, Welcome to the commenting community. I think you have understood what is going on here very well.
Jesus told us "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”"
and
"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
Yet the nature of evangelical culture (not only in the USA) is to be unloving and and restictive.

So "I'd like to invite you to" continue being part of this community.

Anonymous said...

Could you please tell me how a public invittation ought to be done?

stephy said...

See the comment left above by The Reporter.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, so if they would extend an invite to one of those other events first, then an invititation to said "Church event" would be appropiate. I'll make a note of the rules.

stephy said...

No, just the opposite. Saying that from the pulpit is funny because it sounds relational but is usually said without the context of relationship. And that's what Christian culture can't see because their m.o. is Doing Things And Avoiding Relationship.

Anonymous said...

I would say just the opposite is true for the cultural Christians. Just look at Church's like Rick Warren's and Bill Hybels & all those Purpose Driven wanna-bees.
I was in a Church that made that went down that road. 1/2 or more of the preaching was on building relationships with the world. In fact the relationship aspect began to overshadow the Bible because hard truths of the Bible might "offend".

Still Breathing said...

Anonymous, I'm not sure how "building relationships with the world." can "overshadow the Bible" because as I read the gospels building relationships was exactly what Jesus did all the time. He sought out those whose lifestyle might "offend" and didn't condem them but spoke to them with love and compassion.

goth-is-not-emo said...

What Still Breathing said. Not to mention that if you're busy building genuine relationships with the Divine and other people and helping others out of a sense of compassion, you usually don't have much time left to do most of the things the average pastor loves to scream about. Idle hands and all that.

Of course, you also don't have time for prissy prayer meetings or lectures on the "culture war" or wearing scapulars/making a daily novena (Catholics "invite" you to do things too, with extra servings of guilt if you fail to do them all) or picketing abortion clinics. So most pastors are hoping you never catch on.

Anonymous said...

Rick Warren's Church, and the thousands just like it, which have decided to forego the teaching of the "Whole Bible" and focus on being a country club instead is just right for you. I don't understand your complaints. These churches are obviously not "anti relationships."

Anonymous said...

OMG I would love to hear your thoughts on the "Every Man's Battle" series. I have a love/hate relationship with them. Unfortunately they are one of the few resources for porn addiction. BTW the author of the "Every Woman's Battle" Shannon Ethridge also wrote a rather secular sex advice book called "The Confident Wife" and has email newsletter of hilariously faux-sassy sex tips you can sign up for. At Christian culture is attempting to get over their gender inequality and prudeness issues, but it's a long way coming.

stephy said...

My thoughts on it are kinda summed up in the SCCL post "Not Masturbating." I'd link it but I'm on my phone....

Flah the Heretic Methodist said...

@the Reporter: oh so well said. I'd like to invite you to give up your time, money, or both, doing something I think is worthwhile or otherwise part of "our church's vision", but it's entirely possible I don't know your name.

Callie said...

Invitations by their very nature imply relationship. I don't invite people I don't know to my birthday parties, graduations or wedding. And I sure as hell don't invite people, whether I know them or not, to give me money. That's just douchey.

The thing is, churches have learned that if you sidle up next to people and act like you really care about them, they are much more likely to feel obligated to give or do. The 'I invite you' language sounds like they're wanting to give me something, but in fact they want to GET something from me. This is classic manipulation.

Finally, I don't like churhces asking for stuff anyway, because I can think of a million people and causes who need the money WAY more than any church needs a sound system. That being said, though, I wish they would just own what they're asking; at least then I could respect their honesty. When I go to the grocery store and some kid asks me if I want to donate to his baseball game, he doesn't 'invite' me to give my money to him. Same with the Salvation Army bell ringers around the holidays. They want my money, and they ask for it straight out. They don't pretend to be my buddy, they don't invite me to part with my money, they just ASK me for it.

katie said...

I'm just curious on why you clump all christians together. It seems quite judgmental, and don't say christians are the judgmental ones because then that is hypocritical of yourself. Yes, some christians suck but so do some people of all different religions or lack of religions. You need to judge a person on their individual actions not one past awful experience you have had with the religion. Judge Christianity on God and Jesus, not its people.

Callie said...

Katie, Stephy never claims to be judging "all Christians". She talks about "American evangelical culture". It says so in her by-line.

Also, I think we ARE judging Christian culture on God and Jesus; we are comparing a culture that claims to be based on Jesus with Jesus Himself, and sadly the culture looks very little like the One they supposedly emulate. The fact that there is an entire culture that looks nothing like its founder is disturbing. Of course not every individual fits the cultural mold; that's why this website exists. This is a place for us to wrestle with the mold and to sit with questions that don't have easy answers. It's also a place for us to call out the mold for what it is: a mold that much of the time isn't shaped like Jesus at all.

Katie Jones said...

The issue I see with invitations is not necessarily that they don't build a relationship with us first, because I had a roommate who went to a church who sressed building the relationship first. The relationship becomes part of the manipulation. The intention of he church is to spread the gospel, even if that's not what we're interested in. Because of their doctrine, they can't approach us the way we wish they would. They're always concerned about my soul, and all I want is a friend who accepts and encourages who I am without needing to show me the "right" way by inviting me to their churches and events.

Katie Jones said...

(sorry, my "T" key is dying)

Anonymous said...

I have a feeling even if "they" had a relationship with you, you'd still rip on anything that comes from the "culture".

The "culture" can't win in your eyes, we get it.

Heal from your experiences but don't take people down for your gain. At the heart of most people you would consider the "culture" are people with "good will"...trying to survive with a lot of opposition on all sides.

stephy said...

I talked about that very thing on the last Dongtini (episode 15), about good will within the culture.

stephy said...

I do wonder how you would expect me to heal from my experience by just telling me to heal from it while kind of shaming me. This is my basic problem with Christian culture - the Doing Of Things and Avoiding of Relationship.

Katie said...

What an ignorant assumption, Anonymous. I am bitter toward Christian culture--not because it stung me but because it keeps stinging itself. It pains me to watch it keep kicking itself in its own ass. I know that I see through its agenda. I wish it could see through it, too.

Sean (not the douchey one) said...

Re: Anonymous who commented on Every Man's Battle...you said they are some of the only resources that address porn addiction. "I would like to challenge you to" think about that term 'porn addiction'--is that something that really exists? And even if it does, is it widespread? And even if it is, is that really your (or the person you're talking about's) struggle? I think with a little analysis you might find that concept in and of itself is something that has been largely created (or at the very least exploited) by Christian culture, either in an attempt to over-simplify sexuality and therefore control people through simplistic rules, or perhaps to sell lots of books and create a cottage industry for speakers and writers (and pastors and programmers) who are obsessed with sex and secretly enjoy immersing themselves in the subject and deny that pleasure in public as "serving the flock"...kinda like the Movieguide guy Ted Baehr who gets to watch all of the really dirty R- and NC-17 rated movies with the swearing, sex and nudity so he can tell you exactly why you, as a good Christian, should not go near them.

And to the next, more acerbic Anonymous, do you really think Christian culture is "trying to survive with a lot of opposition on all sides"...? Seriously? American Christian culture is one of the largest, most insulated, inbred, closed-circuited societies in the world, which has no problem auto-fellating itself into a feedback looping frenzy when there is even a hint of criticism from the outside. You think megachurches and the Gospel Music Association and Hillsong and Dave Ramsey and Focus on the Family and multi-millionaire televangelists on TBN are just "trying to survive"? If so, I'd like to be struggling to survive too. Except, if it meant I had to do what they do to garner so much attention and make so much money from people who can't afford to give it, no, actually I wouldn't.

Please, tell us, how can a culture like that "win" in anyone's eyes?

George said...

Hi Stephy,
You're going to love this…
Last night I was watching the X Factor (the UK version) on TV. Now over here, the way people watch the show nowadays is to have their smartphones and/or laptops handy, and constantly post snarky tweets or Facebook status updates about the show as we watch (it does make the show a million times more entertaining!)
Last night's theme was 'songs from the movies'. t one point during the show, I tweeted this: https://twitter.com/#!/georgeluke/status/137997593258106880
A short while later, I received this tweet back: https://twitter.com/#!/NeedHim/status/138021557367881728
A "prayer ministry" that deploys bots to spam tweet people who mention the word "prayer" on Twitter. As far as "inviting" people to things or "doing things and avoiding relationship" goes, I don't think you could go any lower…
Have a nice day!