I don’t invite people to church.
Before you drag me through the streets crying heresy, please allow me the opportunity to present my heart to you.
I adore our local church. It is a beautiful part of the body of Christ in motion. The Conduit family is our family; both encouraging and challenging. Full of hope and full of instruction. We miss it dearly when we are unable to gather with our local church family.
Yet, I do not invite people to Conduit with me, or any other church for that matter.
Ever since I was a child, local churches have instilled different values into my life. One of these truths that has always been iterated is that inviting people to church is the encouraged means of evangelism. It is important, and it is valuable.
I am not going to discredit the validity of those who place an emphasis on invitation evangelism; many are well intended children of God who do want to see others come to know Jesus. Yet, many times our intent and our actions do not fully synchronize.
I love Jesus, and I want others to experience that too.
As a result I used to be all about inviting people to church with me. There was always some exciting event, enticing series, or good food to invite people to. I’d hit all the senses to lure them in; and then following the invitation I would feel ‘accomplished’. I fulfilled my purpose by inviting them to church.
I would then pass off the heavy lifting to the Pastor, with secret hopes that this particular Sunday would be that powerhouse Gospel message.
More times than not, the message would be a topic in the Christian narrative that was either irrelevant at that point in their lives; or too intimidating.
They would finish out their stay out of obligation with no intent to engage further and I would rest fully satisfied knowing ‘I did all that I could do.’
Inviting people to church was easy, and it was lazy.
It certainly wasn’t the most effective way in engaging people.
As followers of Christ we are purposed for a life on mission. As Jesus spoke to his disciples, following the Beatitudes, He told them that they were the salt of the earth and the light of the world. He did not suggest to them that they may want to be salt and light to the community around them, He told them they were salt and light.
Jesus’ disciples weren’t purposed to go out and invite people to Jesus so that they could be taught by Him; they were purposed to go. Just as Jesus was sent, so were they sent (John 17:18; John 20:21).
And let’s not forget Jesus’ directive to his followers before his ascension, which was to “go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Inviting people to church eased my purpose. I didn’t have to go and make disciples; all I had to do was talk about some neat events that were happening, inviting friends to participate so that someone else could make disciples.
It relieved me of the weight of my commission.
What if instead of inviting people to church we began to invite people into our homes. To coffee shops and ball parks.
What if we invited people into relationships.
Consider Zacchaeus, Jesus wanted to spend time with him. At Levi’s house Jesus was lounging around the table with His disciples, as well as other ‘sinners and tax collectors’. At Matthew’s house, again Jesus was found around the table with the unrighteous, in relationship.
Relationships that say that people matter and are more than a number or a check mark to cross off. Relationships through which we can personally testify to the goodness of God’s grace.
What if we were more concerned with filling hearts rather than filling seats.
What if we were more concerned with introducing people to Jesus, rather than introducing people to our church.
The local church is a beautiful thing when its purpose is understood. But let it not be a crutch to release us from our purpose as followers of Christ.
When people get to know Jesus, the rest will follow.