Churches get excited when visitors attend their worship service for the first time. They ask their members to invite people to church, usually by handing out “invitation cards” (church business cards). “Invite and invest” has become a popular outreach strategy.
In spite of this constant appeal, many Christians do not invite others to church. This is not because they do not care about the lost being saved. Rather, they are tired of being told to invite people to church for the wrong reason.
The Wrong Reason
We are told to invite people to church so they can hear the gospel and be saved. This is actually the wrong reason to invite them to church because:
- It undermines evangelism. This reason suggests that the gospel can only be shared by a preacher in a church building. This completely undermines what the New Testament says about evangelism. Paul says that Jesus “gave some to be evangelists…to prepare God’s people for works of service” (Ephesians 4:11-12). In other words, preachers have the gift of evangelism to help Christians share their faith and not to share it for them.
- It produces frustration. This reason also suggests that if a church does not have visitors regularly, its members are not evangelizing. This is a false impression that produces unnecessary frustration. More than a sermon or gospel presentation, the Holy Spirit often uses a Christian’s relationships and integrity to bring others to salvation.
The Right Reason
Inviting people to church is a supplement to evangelism, not a substitute for it. We ought to invite people to church because it overcomes two obstacles in the evangelism process:
- Their hostility. Many people reject Jesus because they despise the church. They think Christians are judgmental, closed-minded, hypocritical, and ignorant. Some have been treated poorly by the church or are related to others who have been. Inviting them to church allows them to see firsthand how much Christians care about each other and how wrong the stereotypes are. This helps reduce their hostility toward the church and Jesus.
- Your timidity. Although “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power” (2 Timothy 1:7), many Christians are afraid to share their faith. They need to build their confidence by achieving smaller victories. When someone accepts your invitation to church, it can give you the boldness to tell that person about Jesus.
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