I was watching a theological reaction to an Easter Sunday service stage play done by the Transformation Church in our very own Tulsa, OK. A play that has brought the church and its leaders national criticism from the Christian community. During the reaction, the ‘pastor’ of the church says he did this big production to reach the community around them. The show host then pauses the video and responds that the church does not gather for the community. He goes on to state that the church gathers to worship God together, to remember Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, and to edify and support each other. God did not establish the church for the community.
That statement hurt me and I’ve had to think about that perspective for a few days, mull it over you might say. As someone who is motivated by community outreach, this is a damper on my perspective of what a church body should be doing. The show host is absolutely correct though. The church was not established for the community but for those who believe and respond to the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the church is its own community. It’s not supposed to be a huge program to get people in the doors. So, how does the church community reach people within the community it is placed?
The answer is simpler than I really like, but here it is; we have to invite people ourselves. The most recent national research done (Billy Graham Association) shows that about 82% of people who were converted to Christ did so because of an invitation. This is despite only 2% of regular church goers stating that they were actively inviting people (at least one invitation per six months). Outreach programs are very sporadic in their yield and usually not cost effective, yet the personal invitation seems to be the most cost effective and successful means of new converts. This makes sense when compared to the Great Commission that Jesus lays out for us.
Jesus didn’t state for His followers to create programs that would bring people to Him nor did He tell His followers to sit around and wait for people to come to them. Instead, Jesus says to His followers, “Go.” - Matt 28, Mark 16. The Gospel message is enough to change the hearts of men and, very often, it changes hearts & minds based on what Christians decide to do with the opportunities presented. Too often we place the duty of evangelism on church leaders when they are already swamped tending to the flock!
Everyone in the Body of Christ is capable of doing something as simple as inviting someone to church service. There are so many places out there claiming to be the Lord’s Church and they are leading people astray. We can do our part to combat this if we are willing to get a little uncomfortable and personally invite people to see what our community is about. Remember, it’s not about getting numbers to fill the pews. It’s about being an instrument that brings a soul to God through Christ. Everyone deserves the opportunity to at least hear that they need saving and can be saved. Perhaps you can help present someone with that opportunity this week through an invite. -Luke 14:12-24