Come to Christ, not just the Church

I’ve been thinking a lot about how we present Jesus. I’ve really noticed something of late.

What I’ve noticed is how much of our language focuses on “church” as the destination. That people are seeking to get others to go to this church service, program, speaker, worship event, etc. There is nothing wrong with any of these things, in fact, I think they are important. But we must be clear, the goal of life is not to get people to go to church, but to go to Christ.

That’s where the disconnection happens, because theologically you never go to church; as a Christian you are the church. You bring church with you. Our message needs to be, come to Christ and become part of the church. Our message is come to Jesus and join the adventure of following Christ together. Our message is good news to all. The church has the amazing role and responsibility of sharing that message. But the church shouldn’t transcend  or replace the message.

So all I’m saying is, the church is important, but it’s important only because of Jesus Christ. So when you invite a neighbor to church don’t stop there. Make sure you invite them to discover Jesus as well. Because the amazing thing is that once someone comes to Jesus, they become the church wherever they are…

Soap Boxes, Couches, and Stories

A friend of mine, Pernell Goodyear, was talking at our denomination’s regional gathering. I was recently going through my notes and really resonated with what he shared. He was talking about evangelism, as inviting people into our lives and walking with others. In his talk he said this:

“Soap boxes and pulpits are not nearly as important as kitchen tables and couches.”

This point really hit me quite hard. His point was simple. Evangelism happens best in the context of hospitality and friendship. Inviting people into your life to see how you live, to ask questions, and to live with you is the starting point. We need to be less concerned with getting our message out there, and more concerned with getting our “lives” out there. To actually connect with people, from friendships, and not only speak the message of grace, but to live it out.

Pernell’s point isn’t to invite someone into your home to “evangelize” or “convert” them. Jesus didn’t do that. Jesus entered people’s homes to hear their stories, to enter into their lives with grace. He entered their homes so that their lives became a part of his story. And we need to follow the same example, practicing radical hospitality with our friends, neighbors, and co-workers, letting their stories intermingle with ours, to see what God might do with the convergence.

So how do we practice this? Well, that’s the easy part, you start opening up your home, inviting neighbors in, inviting friends in, and welcoming others. Start listening to other people’s stories and seeking to discover how Jesus has been active in their lives, because he is. Jesus is already at work all over the world. We need to start joining him in that work by welcoming people into our homes, and starting to share our story, and listen to others…