…That was what my friend Rob Nash said to me once many years ago. Rob is now the Global Missions Coordinator for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. His comment seems to betray much of what we good church going folks have been taught all of our lives. When you meet a neighbor, invite him to church…when a new student sits beside you in class, invite her to church…when you meet a couple at the local gym, invite them to church. Isn’t that the implied message we get from the pulpit to the pews? Go out and invite others to church.
Rob remarked that you do not invite people to church. You invite them to Jesus. Of course inviting people to church is much easier. We can feed, entertain, enlighten and even enliven – all on one visit. Inviting people to Jesus, however, is inviting others into a relationship, which means commitment, discipline, sacrifice, relinquishing, and surrendering.
To invite another to church, any church or our church, doesn’t really require much of us personally. To invite someone to Jesus is to share in a relationship.
What kind of church do we want to be? Do we want to be a church of people where the journey ends at 3500 Walton Way or a people on a journey in relationships?
It reminds me of another “pithy” saying that I have picked up along the way: Don’t go to church. Be the church.
Be the church in word – all are welcome.
Be the church in mission – the world is our parish.
Be the church in love – every relationship has value.
Be the church in pursuit – inquiry is not tolerated, it is celebrated.
Be the church in worship – how can we not gather together and celebrate.
Come to church, not because you have been invited, but because church is where the body of Christ is made manifest in word and deed. For all of the above and so much more, I cherish our time together in the many opportunities to be the church: in fellowship, in study, in work and in worship. Thank you for letting me be a part.
How can we not invite others into the relationship that transforms all relationships?