I invite people to church. A lot. Enough to be surprised when someone actually accepts my invitation. It happens. Rarely. But it does happen.
I invite people to church, because I love my church.
It has been a place where I have grown and been allowed to come as I was. The church is more than a building but is actually a body of believers. Because it has been such a wonderful experience for me, I can not help but want the people I love to have the exact same experience.
…. Look back at that paragraph and see how many times I talked about myself and MY feelings? …. Yep … A lot. And there is the problem.
When we invite others to church, we forget that we are inviting them into a space that is comfortable for us but may not be comfortable for them. We think that our invitation will ignite a desire deep within them to do something that they probably have zero desire to do. Then, after we have gotten them to church, we stare at them after they have listened to a man speak for 35 minutes expectantly like, “Seee! NOW, Don’t you LOVE God?! Wasn’t that FUN?!” (Dead stare response.)
I did not come to faith in church and Christ did not capture my heart there. Prior to me seeing Christ as He is, church felt like a desperate sales pitch from beautiful, naive people who were not as smart as I was.
Instead, Jesus sought me out and came to me.
Outside of the church- through people that were willing to meet me in bars and coffee shops. People who were willing to listen and support me as I sorted out what it meant to have faith in Christ. People who I trusted genuinely loved me and did not just see me as a good case for transformation. People who did not demand that I come to them.
I do not doubt that this was probably very uncomfortable and inconvenient for those people. It is a lot easier and a lot less loving to presume that those we love should always come to us on Sunday to get the best of our time and attention.
People do come to faith and fall in love with Christ through the church all the time. I just hope that we never presume that inviting our friends to church is the most loving use of our time with that person.
Let’s be willing to go to those places that are most comfortable for them because in the end it’s all about loving other people well anyway.
Let’s love people the way that Christ loved us and pursue those we love well even if they never accept the invitation.