People who don't go to church don't want to go to church.
For folks like me, who love going to church, that's hard to wrap our heads and hearts around. Because of that, we sometimes get our priorities mixed up.
When people get to know Jesus, church attendance is a natural outgrowth of wanting to spend time with other people who love Jesus, too. We want to be discipled. To become more like Jesus. That's the role of church.
When we put church attendance ahead of knowing Jesus, even chronologically, we can unintentionally send people the wrong message – that salvation is about church attendance.
(This post is an extension of my previous post, Are We More Invested In Bringing People to Church? Or to Jesus?)
Let's Stop Putting What’s Easy Ahead of What Works
Why do we put ‘inviting people to church’ so high on our evangelism priorities list? Because it's easy. Inviting someone to a church event is easier than inviting them to see Christ in me.
When church attendance is our first (or only) step in evangelism, we end up putting on a show for them. But people don't want a show. And it's not what the church is supposed to be.
I'm hugely in favor of making the on-ramp easy for first-time church attenders. But never at the expense of doing what we're supposed to do when we gather as the church – worshiping, discipling, having fellowship and preparing people for ministry.
In Why You Should Never Invite People to Your Church… Until You’ve Invited Them to Your Home, Israel Steinmetz makes a simple, yet profound point. “You know what’s awkward? Going to a new church. You know what’s worse? Going to a new church when you’re not already friends with someone who goes there.”
Inviting people to church is easy for us, but hard for them. Inviting them to our home is harder for us, but easier for them.
Jesus never made it hard for us and easy on him. And he's our example.
So go ahead and invite people to church. But make it one step in a journey of drawing them to Jesus. A journey that usually begins by getting to know them – and inviting them to see a genuine expression of Jesus in us.
It's nice to go to a church that's friendly. It's better to go to church with a friend.
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