Would you please stop inviting people to church? What a surprising statement from a man who is supposed to build up the church. You would expect strategies, slogans and positive statements.
Why would I scream: “Stop inviting people to church?” There is a catch. The catch is the word “Unless.”The following explanations will help you understand the logic behind the statement.
Stop inviting people to church unless you are willing to love them. If the invitation to church is the only time you will speak to them, there is hypocrisy in such actions. Many people invite others to church for special activities, such as revivals, but never contact or speak to them any other time. This is hypocritical! Invitations to church have little impact unless motivated by love and grounded in a sound relationship.
Stop inviting people to church unless you are going to invite them into your world. A professor of evangelism, at one of our seminaries, once said: “Why would people want to go to our Heaven unless we want them in our living room?”
Stop inviting people to church unless you want to live Christ before them. People are looking for legitimizers of the gospel. They do not want to hear a sermon; they want to see a sermon.
Stop inviting people to church unless you put people before the institution. We often put “our” church before the people for whom Jesus died. Example: Church business meetings are notorious for discouraging people. We get caught up in maintaining the institution and fail to see how the institution is a stumbling block to people.
Stop inviting people to church unless you look at a person’s heart rather than outward appearance. I have known situations where church members frown at a person who wears flip flops, a baseball cap or what they perceive to be inappropriate clothing. We evaluate their outward appearance rather than the needs of their heart.
Stop inviting people to church unless you are willing to sit by them. Church guests are often anxious about visiting a church because they do not know anyone and might not know the rituals. A friendly supporter will alleviate these concerns.
Inviting people to church can be a vital part of a church’s outreach. However, if not supported by proper actions, the invitation can be a hindrance and a barrier.
Sean Keith is the Sunday School/Discipleship specialist for the Louisiana Baptist Convention.