I realize this may sound like a bunch of hype and hooey… and a little crazy if you know me at all. Crazy, because if you’ve spent any time visiting with me here or have read my about page, then (I pray) you’d quickly know exactly where my heart is with the Lord and how passionate I am for His gospel.
So I don’t want what I’m about to say to be misunderstood but I have to be honest about my struggles. See, my eyes are open now and …so is my Bible. God is showing me things like never before. I’m learning and repenting. Then, I’m learning some more.
Learning more about how some of the “churchy” attitudes and “religious” practices I once was led to believe were good, right and acceptable, may sometimes do more harm than good all by themselves.
Learning that there were times when, if I wasn’t an outright stumbling block to the Gospel, I may at least have been a poorly-placed sign directing people down a maze of confusing side streets instead of the narrow, and only, direct road to Home.
Honest before God; I meant well.
Fortunately, God is still GOD and doesn’t waste a shred so He’s used it all one way or another…and in fact, I trust He’s’ using it here and now. Because I’m ready to share….
Don’t get me wrong; I love the Church. I’m an active member of an active congregation which is part of a major worldwide denomination. I’m a member of the worship team, have facilitated a few Bible studies and I volunteer with several of our ministries–happily serving alongside a handful of people I’ve come to love dearly.
They’re my family.
We’ve gone on mission trips together, stateside and abroad, serving side by side in a variety of ways. In fact, I’m writing this from one of our major missions campuses where I’ve been invited to serve another group gathered for the weekend. I love my Church family.
But at the end of the day, if you had to ask me about my affiliation, from my heart I’d tell you only this: I am a follower of Jesus Christ. So, it’s not about that. I mean surely… you are welcome to join me at my church and if you come I hope you’ll sit beside me and stay, but not because I invited you to church…
because that’s not what I’m doing.
Generally speaking, I used to invite people to church all the time. I sorta thought that’s what I was supposed to do. So there’d be an event or a special program for the kids and with almost a Members air of superiority, I’d be telling you all about why you should come, bring the kids and take advantage of all we had to offer. I’d tell you about the music. The message… the meal on Wednesday nights. I’d tell you about the fellowship and the community and show you ways you could plug in and get involved.
These are not wholly bad things….but they are also not the whole story or even the first things. I guess found it easier and maybe less confrontational to be enthusiastic and excited about everything…. but Jesus.
Somehow He got lost in the mix.
Did I care about your salvation and walk with Christ? Well, sure. But I trusted that would take care of itself eventually and began, without realizing it, to trust in programs and events to do the job. Just come with me to this event– we have great music, a fabulous speaker, childcare and yummy food. As if Jesus might be on the menu and I hoped you’d order. As if the Gospel was an appetizer, but the meal and program was the main attraction.
I guess it’s taken my own personal season of wilderness as a Temple Prostitute to realize that’s not enough. It’s not only NOT enough but it’s not at all what I’ve been called and commissioned to do.
Over and over again, I’ve been reading in my bible how Jesus never, ever, ever invited anyone to the temple.
Over and over I’m reading how Jesus made his invitation clear to “come and see“…inviting others to come and see the Father through Himself. Even in the early days of gathering disciples, as Jesus stepped into the picture, each one would find another and invite them….not to church, but to come and see the Christ.
Come to Jesus.
Come and see the One!
Come to relationship, not religion.
Come to salvation and THE new and abundant Way of life, not a membership or event.
In the Bible, the meals, the teachings, the gatherings…were all “extra-curricular” in nature but the main thrust– before, during and after— was always the Gospel. It was always about Jesus.
And when He left and ascended into heaven Jesus’ final words weren’t just directed to His amazed and slack-jawed disciples gathered and watching on the side of the mountain; they were to you and me as well. “Go and make disciples” In other words….don’t just invite people to church… go and BE the Church.
“Come and see, now go and tell”.
Oh, but we may think…”evangelism is not my spiritual gift.” That’s 100% correct. Because it’s really a command; a mandate.
We are to tell and teach the story… the story of what His story has done to make a difference in our story. That’s what I want my life to be. That’s it from now on. I want to take the time to reach out to my neighbors and community intentionally with the love of Christ and His saving Gospel message. Without judgement and without reservations.
If I invite anyone anywhere, I want it to be into His presence with my life, in my home or in the pew next to me. If I would dare to invite a friend or a neighbor to an event may it only be after I’ve invited them into my life as a witness to the Gospel.
God help me if I do anything less.
So, it’s true. I’ve stopped inviting people to church; instead I’m living to invite people to Jesus. Because the church, it’s membership and events alone, won’t save a single soul. Only Jesus can do that and He invites us to join Him in the work.