In the 1970s, Life Cereal was struggling to get people to try their new “healthy” cereal. Their advertising concept consisted of 3 young boys sitting at the breakfast table. Mom had purchased this new “healthy” cereal for the boys but the two oldest boys were not game to try it just yet. Their youngest brother Mikey was a very picky eater. He hates everything, the boy exclaimed. Let’s make him try it. Mikey took one bite, liked it, and kept eating. Thus, it coined the phrase: “Mikey! He likes it! He likes it!” This moment of cuteness moved audiences to go to the grocery stores, buy the cereal and try it. (You can watch the short commercial here: https://youtu.be/vYEXzx-TINc)
The Not So Picky Eater
As a kid, I loved food! I was not the picky eater like Mikey, except I would not eat brussels sprouts. They just looked weird. But one thing I really did not like nor understood was coffee. Every morning growing up in my parents’ home, the automatic coffee pot would turn on early. The aroma of the fresh brew would linger out of the kitchen, through the living room, then down the hallway finally arriving in the back of the house to my bedroom. It wasn’t a bad smell to wake up to. My parents were Folgers drinkers. Now back in the day, there was not a Starbucks on every corner. If you didn’t have coffee at home, you probably had a cup at the local greasy spoon with your breakfast or maybe at the office. But that was mainly it.
Folgers had a great slogan that continues to today. “The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup.” My mornings started that way. Except, I couldn’t stand coffee. It tasted so bad to me. I wouldn’t drink it. But the summer between graduating from high school and starting college I found something that would change my life! French Vanilla Cappuccino! It was sweet enough that I was able to get a few swigs down. I liked it!! Jeremy likes it! Later I actually started adding coffee to my cappuccino to give it an extra kick of caffeine. The sweetness of the French vanilla masked the coffee. Today, I only drink my coffee black! I turned into my parents! But now, I know why they loved it so.
I had the same experience with Chinese food. My mom hates Chinese food. She won’t get near it nor let it in the house. My dad, on the other hand, loved Chinese food. Since we never had Chinese food at home, I took on the attitude of my mom toward it. Until the day a Chinese buffet opened near our house. I remember the first time going through the buffet seeing all the selections, trying to pronounce the names of these new entrée’s. Remember, I love food! The fried rice was easy and I was drawn to the sweet and sour chicken and egg rolls. I tried it and I loved the egg rolls. Within one visit, I was in love with the Americanized Chinese buffet.
Being a novice with Chinese food, I thought all Chinese food was the same no matter where you went. That thinking was completely blown out of the water when I was on a mission trip in the country of Peru. Our team had decided we would go “out on the town” and go to a Chinese restaurant. Because I had tried Chinese food back home, I was up for it and pretty excited to have something different than the beans and rice we had for the last week. Looking over the menu I found they had egg rolls. Egg rolls!! Yes! One of my favorites. So, I ordered some egg rolls. As the rest of the team was served their food, I was still waiting on my egg rolls. Finally, here they came. Yet, they were nothing like what I had eaten in the States. Egg rolls in Peru were a group of hard-boiled Robin’s eggs that rolled around in a bowl. I’m not kidding. All the eggshells were of different colors. The eggs looked like they came from an Easter egg basket!
Being shocked at what was before me, it took me a while to get up the nerve to crack open one of the eggs and try to eat it. As I peeled backed the colorful shell, I found the Robins egg to taste just like a chicken egg. Now, this whole egg roll experience became a game and I was having fun with it. I finished off my “egg rolls” and had an interesting dinner of nothing but hard-boiled eggs. If you go to a Chinese restaurant in Peru, I recommend asking the wait staff for a clear definition of what their egg rolls really are.
I’m glad I tried the rolls. We are all uncomfortable with things we have never tried or experienced before. Yet, we normally try something new because someone else has already tried it and they LIKE IT! Like Mikey! I can’t tell you the number of things I have tried or places I have gone because someone else told me about it or invited me to try it.
The Power of Invitation – We Need to Be an Inviting People
Today, church is something that more and more people have never even tried. Of course, church is not like a roller coaster at an amusement park, or a new pair of shoes, or some fad. Church is supposed to be a community of Christ-followers whose love is so known in the world around them and they are filled with God’s Spirit to such a degree that Jesus is lifted up where men are drawn to come and see and come and follow. As Jesus says, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
Did you know that the majority of people, when asked why they don’t go to church, don’t have a reason? You may think people just don’t have time. They don’t know what religion is right for them. Maybe you’re afraid that they will be turned off if your pastor mentions money. It would be reasonable to think that health issues or other problems would prevent someone from attending church, especially if they never felt welcomed. Of course, these things are issues for some, but they are the minority. None of these things are the major reason people don’t go to church.
Could it be the major reason someone does not go to church is that someone has never invited them? Would it be that simple? They just need to be invited? Yes! They need to see there is a difference, there is hope, there is a place of faith where life can truly be changed. You, my friend, have the greatest hope and life-change residing inside of you. If you are a true Christ-follower, the Holy Spirit lives inside of you. He is the one that brings the life-change that you need, as well as, what every person you come in contact with needs.
Back in the late 1980s, Nike was falling way behind in sales and brand recognition to Reebok. Today that is hard to imagine, but it was true. Nike, named after the Greek goddess of victory, was not having any victory growing their company. Nike employed an advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy to help them refocus their efforts. Dan Wieden, co-founder of the ad agency had been greatly moved by words of Gary Gilmore. You see, Gary had committed a horrible crime murdering two people in Utah. On January 17, 1977, Gilmore became the first person executed in over a decade. When asked if he had any final words, Gilmore said, “Let’s do it.”
“Let’s do it” had rung in the mind of Wieden. But he did not focus on the gruesomeness of the crime or the execution but the attitude of Gilmore. Gilmore had obviously come to grips with his fate and knew his time had come. I do not know if Gary Gilmore had come to faith in Jesus Christ while in prison or if he had become embittered in his heart. But his last words have had a great impact on our world today.
Dan Wieden, assigned to help Nike out of its deep hole, coined the phrase, “Just do it.” That became the company’s slogan. No one liked it at the beginning. But Wieden knew better. To kick off the ad campaign, they told the story of the 80-year-old marathon runner Walt Stack. As audiences began to see the resilience and strength of Walt Stack and hearing the statement “Just do it” sales began to soar.
Since 1988, Nike’s Just Do It has changed the way we approach big challenges and obstacles. Whether or not you wear the Nike brand is not the issue. Nike changed the culture of athletic wear and in doing so it has infused the attitude of Just Do It. When asked to try something new, has someone said to you, just do it!? It may seem like just a simple passing phrase, but the attitude behind it is there. And Nike holds a lot of responsibility for that.
I could easily tell you to go invite people to church and say…Just Do It! Now that may not be the greatest motivator. But the fact remains that people will come to church when asked. More than 55% of people have said they would attend church if asked. The power of invitation is that you are not trying to convince someone of every little detail of church or of a relationship with Jesus. The power rests in the fact that God is at work in your life and in the life of the person you are inviting whether they know it or not. Church is something that you have to try to really experience it. But unlike a drug or food or even coffee, here they see and experience the love that Jesus spoke of in John 13.
Think about this when you are inviting someone to church. Your invitation is to just Try It. But in doing so, you might be inviting someone to attend church for the first time in their life. WOW! God is pursuing a love relationship with them and He is using you to draw that person to Himself. That love relationship will change all eternity for that person when they come to Christ.
So, get out there and just do it! Invite someone to join you at church this week. When they try it…they might just like it!