Part 3 of 4
Last week, we looked at the first 4 of 7 common reasons why most Christians answer the question “Do Non-Believers Belong in Worship Services?“ with an emphatic “YES!” Today, we’ll summarize and respond to the remaining 3 arguments behind their belief that church members should invite their non-Christian friends to church. The Bible states clearly in 1 Corinthians 14:22-25 that non-believers who show up at church “unannounced” should be warmly welcomed, but that their presence should not impede pastors from preaching “the deep truths of God”. However, what was in question in our last post “Is Church Really a ‘Hospital for Sinners’?“and again here is the biblical foundation for proactively inviting and advertising to entice non-believers to join worship services…
5. “What about all those who won’t hear the Gospel if we stop inviting non-believers to church?”
When you read that question out loud, it does make no longer inviting non-believers to church sound heartless and “unChristian”. At first glance, the question conjures the image of non-believers left out in the cold to fend for themselves.
However, what that argument does not take into account is how many more would likely come to faith if churchgoers would do more than simply invite them to come into a building. In other words, when we contended last week that church is not a “hospital for sinners”, we were making the point that “church” by definition is not a building but an assembly of the “called out ones” who are “devoted to the Lord”. Therefore, church is not an Emergency Room where those critically ill and hopelessly lost are supposed to arrive by ambulance for urgent care on Sunday mornings.
ER doctors and nurses only practice medicine inside the confines of a hospital. However those who do not yet know that they have Stage 4 spiritual cancer are highly unlikely to rush to the pastoral “oncologist” at the “hospital for sinners” for sanctifying chemo and radiation treatments. Instead, individual Christians were intended to be the “church” personified, nurse practitioners making house calls in their workplaces and neighborhoods delivering the great news that Jesus can bring instantaneous and complete healing.
Imagine the Kingdom impact of reverting to the biblical definition of “church”, equipping and mobilizing the millions of “hands and feet” who sit idly in the pews of America’s churches, hoping their non-believing coworkers and friends will one day accept their invitation to a worship service. The simple, convicting truth that dispels the myth behind the argument raised in this section is that fewer non-believers would be on the “outside looking in” if churchgoers would adopt their intended roles, commissioned by Jesus Himself, as evangelists and disciple-makers. Seekers would find what they were looking for without ever having to step foot into a church building.
6. “Isn’t it a great thing to have lots of non-believers checking out our church?”
At the risk of sounding like a politician, the answer to that question is “it depends…”
…on why they’re checking out your church
Is church attendance a prerequisite for social acceptance (as it is in many small towns)?
Are they responding to a mailer or invitation promising a fun environment for kids and practical messages, with no expectations?
Or was their curiosity sparked by members who continually demonstrate compassion despite hardship, love despite animosity, and forgiveness despite injustice?
…on what they find when they get there
A comfortable, warm environment free of challenges or commitments beyond returning next Sunday
Answers to their tough questions, confronted with the truth about sin and their need for forgiveness
Opportunities to grow through discipleship and live out their faith through missions
…on how the church has changed to accommodate them
Compromising and conforming so as not to offend yet consequently defiling what is meant to be holy
Reluctant to hold the congregation to the Great Commission standard, failing to equip and empower those called to be the “church” between Sundays
Resorting to occasional compassion events, checking the box rather than following Jesus’ model of serving first and then telling people who He is