Why Christians don’t invite people to their church functions? I posed this question to all the folks in my social networks a few weeks back. I thought their answers were worthy of a series of blog post. Each blog post will offer a brief examination of the particular responses and sketch out a solution for it. You can read part one here.
Here are a few of the other answers for why we don’t invite people to our church functions:
“Perhaps sometimes, we tell ourselves that the “secular person” (for lack of a better word) will not enjoy church functions? Therefore leading ourselves to believe the person will only be pushed further away from christianity?”
“Because people generally ARE pushed further away from Christianity by Christians. Fact. I’ve had friends come to church for years at a time. They come to “small group” never to be seen at church again.”
“The church is weird.”
“I think people are more ashamed of other Christians than they are of Christ.”
Why don’t we invite our friends to church functions? We are afraid that our friends will be pushed away from Christianity by other Christians. I can sympathize with this reason. Churches can be weird for a lot sorts of reasons. My first church was a crazy Pentecostal fellowship. Throughout the service people constantly spoke in tongues, violently shook, and sometimes would hysterically laugh for no particular reason. Consequently, I refused to invite friends and eventually left because of the pervasiveness of heresy.
My churches since haven’t been nearly as messed up. Matter of fact, most of them have been really good churches but I have still struggled to invite folks for the before mentioned reason. Why? I think it is because it took me awhile to wrap my mind around two important principles. Maybe this is your problem. Tell me what you think. Here they are…
First, all healthy churches repel more people than they attract. I was surprised by how many people found this idea challenging when I floated it on Twitter a few weeks ago. However, it really shouldn’t of surprised me. The seeker sensitive and missional movements have inundated America with the idea that its bad for a church to repel people. Even the most cursory reading of the New Testament would prove this idea false. For example, just consider these three Scriptures:
“For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:22
“For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?” 2 Corinthians 2:15-16
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:13-14
The gospel is an offensive message at its very core. This is why so many reject it and, thereby, don’t enter through the narrow gate. So any church that preaches the gospel will be a stumbling block and a fragrance of death to most of your friends. Origen said, “The same sun that melts the wax, hardens the clay.” The gospel will soften some hearts and harden others. Some of your friends will fall down in repentance like Paul. Others will rise up in rebellion like Pharaoh.
We don’t get to make the decision regarding who is a Paul or a Pharaoh. All we do is preach the gospel and God works through it in showing who is who. This is why many of us don’t invite our friends to church functions. We know if they hear the gospel rightly preached it will drive them away. So we shield them from gospel under the guise of being a sensitive missionary. The truth is that we are selfishly protecting a relationship instead of lovingly bringing them to place where the gospel is central. The gospel is powerful. You’ll be surprise by the number and identity of the Pauls God has sovereignly placed in your life.
I know what you are probably thinking. People aren’t just repelled by the gospel. They are repelled by the stupid things our fellow church members say and do. I know. That brings me to my next point.
Second, all healthy churches are made up of repulsive people. Christians say and do repulsive things. They lie, steal, and even make racist jokes. Why? Because they are still sinners. Sin repulses. So, yeah, people are going to be repelled by the less than godly actions of people in your church. However, you cannot let that keep you from inviting people to church functions. All churches are full of people that can often be repellant. So eventually someone is going to “offend” or “repulse” your friends regardless of what church they attend. Believe it or not, this sort of scenario is actually a great opportunity to explain the true nature of the gospel. It gives us a chance to pop their idealism balloon. You can explain to them how the church is a beautiful mess. Hospitals are gross places full of diseased people but they are being made well. The church is where sin is dealt with in all its brutal ugliness and not a place where it is hidden.
Don’t be ashamed of your church. Don’t be ashamed of the gospel. God works through broken vessels. Just invite your friends and be sure answer their questions. Leave the results with the Father.