I was recently challenged by someone who asked why we invite people to church. Not that inviting people to church is bad – but if we look a Jesus and the disciples we don’t see much of that going on.
Jesus went to the streets to meet Zacchaeus (Lk 19), the Samaritan woman at the well (Jn 4), Matthew (Mt 9), and he called the disciples by going to where they worked (Mt 16). He was out and about when the Centurion came to him (Mt 8), when he got the request to heal the paralytic and the sick girl (Mt 9). Simon’s mother (Mk 1), and the list goes on.
In Jesus’ last words to us – the Great Commission (Mt 28:18-20) – he says: “Go and make disciples”. It is an imperative to go and keep on going. And contained in this familiar passage is the command to baptize and to: teach them to obey “everything I have commanded you” (vs20), which means to keep going and making disciples.
Let’s face it – going to church is foreign territory for many. I am not sure I would feel so comfortable going to a place where lots of people regularly meet and do stuff I am not familiar with, singing songs I don’t know using words and phrases I don’t understand.
The word for church is “ecclesia”. This is literally translated as “called out ones”. We in the church are called out. We are not called to invite people to the institution or the functions of the church. These are all good things, they just come later.
This is not easy work and Jesus never said it would be. In fact it is quite the opposite, it is hard and not popular, see Mt 10:22 and Jn 15:18. But we are called to die to self, in fact there are 20 scriptures that reference this, some are Gal 2:20, Lk 9:23, Jn 23:24. And of course again Jesus is our model (Jn 3:16).
I invite you to consider this challenge, that I have given to myself. To ask the Lord to reveal to you his heart, and his strategy to reach the lost. To throw away tradition and paradigms and really look at what Jesus did, and what he taught his disciples to do.