Inviting Someone to Church is NOT Evangelism!
Fulfilling the Great Commission!
One of the things that has never struck me a quite right is the old notion of inviting someone to church. Recently, I wrote an article on”Fulfilling the Great Commission” and it suddenly dawned on me to as why that old adage “invite someone to church” has never set well in my spirit. The reason is quite simple. Inviting someone to church is not fulfilling the “great commission” but committing the “great cop-out”. It is so much easier to invite someone to church because the sharing of the gospel then rests on the shoulders of the pastor who is trained to to do that! Right! Wrong! The last command that Jesus gave us before ascending into heaven was quite clear. Here it is:
Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
There were three clear components of the command:
The Global Mission
The “Go Ye” Gospel
The first component of the mission found in verse 19 is “Go and make disciples of the nations.” The word “Go” is poreuomai literally means “after going” or “as you are going” which indicates that we must first go out, depart, travel or journey. To be clear, the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a “Go Ye” Gospel. I Love the King James translation here, “Go Ye therefore”. So we have a command from Jesus that we are not to just sit around and wait for folks to notice that we are redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb but we are expressly ordered by the King of Kings and Lord of Lord to “Go” and spread the gospel.
This personal commission from Jesus Himself to, as we are going, permeate our world with the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Not a Come Ye Gospel
Most of us grew up under the notion that it is the Pastors responsibility to evangelize and that we are somehow absolved of the responsibility to go out and share the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are considered really spiritual if we merely invite someone to church. But Jesus gave the poreuomai (Go ye therefore) command to everyone who hears His words. It was a personal challenge to everyone there and to everyone who reads these verses. Many times I find myself caught up in the daily grind of technology and business only to remember to share the gospel after the opportunity has passed. The gospel is not about inviting someone to church but telling them about the opportunity to have eternal live through faith is Jesus Christ.
The message is clear in verse 19 that we are to “make disciples”. But it does not stop there. We are to signify that they are disciples by “baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”. This is a significant thing to consider. The Bible is clear that baptizing is not required for salvation but as the first public act of a believers testimony. However, Jesus commanded us to baptize new disciples “in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
This second part of the message is the most difficult and probably the reason that many Christians are simply pew warmers on Sunday morning and do no reflect the glory of God in their daily personal life. The word didaskontes is present participle active voice verb which literally means to “keep teaching”. The idea is to “keep teaching” so as to bring the new disciple to a greater knowledge of Jesus Christ so that they too can begin to make disciples.
I am with you always
After issuing a clear command with a direct message to the believers present at the ascension, Jesus also gave a promise that does not end until the culmination of “the age”. While I am not a strict dispensationalist I do believe that we are in the “Church Age” and that the commission that Jesus ordered before the ascension will not be complete until the “Rapture of the Church”. Jesus promised that He would be with us until the end of the age and on Pentecost sent The Holy Spirit to indwell, empower and comfort believers.
Because Christ Jesus gave us this promise we can trust Him for the opportunity to share the good news of the Gospel and that He will equip us to help others mature in Christ Jesus giving them the confidence to share their faith in Christ with others.
Fulfilling the Great Commission or Perpetrating the Great Cop-Out !
Inviting Someone to Church
When we simply invite someone to church we have neither displayed our faith nor challenged the faith of the person whom we invited to church. In a sense, this is nothing more than lazy man’s evangelism and in no way reflects the great commission commanded by Jesus. Too many times believers have been deceived into believing that they are not qualified to share the gospel and that the pastor, being properly trained, is the only one qualified to share the gospel thus only committing the believer to “invite people to church”. This could not be further from the truth of the great commission, in which Jesus commanded everyone who hears or reads the words of Matthew 28:18-20 to go and spread the gospel.
The Great Cop-Out
For me, I call this fear-based syndrome the “great cop-out”. If a believer is going to share with someone, who may or may not ever come to a church service, they should at least confront them with the truth of the gospel. When we invite someone to church we have not confronted them with the reality of their eternal status. If they never come to church, never hear the gospel and die in their sins, not having been confronted with the reality of those sins then we, as believers, have failed to do the very thing that Jesus Himself commissioned us to do and are culpable in the eternal status of the one with whom we did not share.
People often respond to church invitations with “oh brother, here they go again”. We irritate people with invitations rather than confronting them with the reality of their eternal status before God.
He is With Us Always, You Know!
Luke 21:13-14 “But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake. It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony.So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute.”
Jesus Himself tells us that He will give us the words that we need if we trust Him and the fact that He has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us is proof. Jesus tells us this in Matthew 10:20 “For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.” But our faith is small and our minds so conditioned to believe that you have to educated to share the gospel, that we simply do not have the courage to share the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ as it was shared with us. Jesus clearly tells us it is not up to our education and the we do not need to be properly prepared but that He (Jesus) sent the Holy Spirit to provide all that we need to share the gospel. The gratefulness we have for the fact that God has provided redemption for us through the blood of His blessed Son should be more than enough impetus for us to share that fact with others.
The Gospel is Worth Sharing
The most important thing for believers to remember is that those who have not trusted Jesus as their Lord and Savoir are destined to perish. John 3:16 ““For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” The word used for perish here is apollumi which means to destroy fully or to cut off completely.
God Does Not Desire Any to Perish
II Peter 3:7-9 “But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
The fact is that God will judge the heavens and the earth in the end along with those who have not accepted Christ as their Savoir is a serious and final matter. But God also desires that none should perish but all to come to know Christ. Inviting someone to church does not reflect the concern of God’s heart that none should perish but all should come to a knowledge of the truth. It simply does not reflect the courage of a faith rooted in Jesus Christ alone, but a human fear of confrontation and rejection that may result in the eternal punishment of those with whom believers do not share the gospel.
Paul describes this as a fragrance in II Corinthians 2:15 “For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing;” In Romans 10:17 Paul also tells us “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Inviting someone to church is not projecting the Word of Christ and thus providing the opportunity for the unbeliever to “come to repentance”.
When all is said and done inviting someone to church is not evangelism but the “Great Cop-out”. Sharing the good news of the gospel of repentance and salvation through Jesus Christ is fulfilling the “Great Commission”.
One, almost always, leads to nothing for the one who is perishing, but the other always presents the opportunity for one who is perishing to receive eternal life!