It Starts with An Invite

Invitations come to us in a variety of ways. Fancy wedding invitations come with RSVP cards, a photo or two of the couple and a web site link for gift giving. Invitations to birthday parties are very age driven. The invitation might feature a superhero, Disney character, cool “teen” art, mug of beer or a pretty bouquet of flowers. We get invitations over the phone, on Facebook, in emails and face-to-face conversations. Invitations are important because they say you are welcome and part of the community.

Being invited to serve as a leader in the church is important. The “Growing Younger” resources of the ELCA have been created to help congregations connect with people so that our world may experience the difference God’s grace and love in Christ makes for all people and creation. One of the six Core Commitments is centered on “keychain leadership”. It is sharing or passing on the “keys”, actual keys and keys roles, to others opening the door for them to serve. It is a sign of trust and confidence that when accompanied with training results in people being able to effectively use their gifts.

As a high school student, I was asked to assume a significant leadership at camp and that experience was life changing. Being recognized by a woman I deeply respected as my mentor and being asked to lead a small group like one of the staff members opened the door for conversation and prayerful discernment. I was invited to serve and discern which led to excitement and action. Given the chance to serve as a leader in one situation led to new invitations and by the time I was in college I was leading training sessions for adults serving in new leadership roles.  I had been handed the keys and as I served I discovered new ways to use and center my gifts on serving others. Since that day, I have had the honor of passing the keys to hundreds of college students serving on camp staff and helping others grow their skills as leaders in congregations.

This past weekend I watched an elementary child serve as acolyte for his first time at St. John’s in Alliance. The adult, who accompanied him up front, had equipped and empowered him to do the job and he was beaming. I was introduced to the Quilt Queen who keeps those quilters going and helped set up the display of beautiful quilts on the pews before they were to be packed for Lutheran World Relief. A woman setting up chairs for a funeral told Pastor Tim “to go on home; we’ve got this. We know what to do.” They had all been invited to serve.

Invitations are a big deal. I invite you to make a matchmaker list of needs, gifts and people. Then invite those on your list, the list of talented disciples, to use them to use their God-given gifts to serve!




Deacon Sunni Richardson serves as the Director for Leadership Development for the Nebraska Synod and lives in Lincoln, NE. If you need help getting started, Sunni would love to visit with you about invitations! You can reach Sunni at