You're as brilliant as the things you want to do!
Or, as obtuse as the things you don't want to do!

National Back to Church Sunday

back-to-church-sunday-poster-cropped-2.jpgThe National Back to Church Sunday is a blitz to get church members to invite people to come to church on September 20th. The effort emphasizes inviting friend, neighbors and loved ones to come a special Sunday Service just for them. The notion of a “special service” just for people who are invited to church seems noble on the surface but is it noble or is it ignoble?

The problem with such a notion is that it is designed to bolster attendance at Sunday services to support brick and mortar institutions rather than applying the last command that Jesus gave the church. That command was not a call to a “Come Ye” gospel but the command to spread “Go Ye’” gospel. There is one main problem with the idea of “inviting” someone to church and that is it is not obeying the last command that Jesus gave which was to share the gospel where ever the believer goes. Institutional religion has instilled in it’s members the idea that you have to bring someone to church so they can hear the gospel. “Butts in chairs” as one popular pastor in Atlanta Georgia puts it.

In truth this idea, that you have to invite someone to church to hear the gospel, is a deception. Pure and simple deception. How can I say something so contrary to status quo of institutional, brick & mortar centric, religion? It is very easy to recognize this as deception because first and foremost it is not what God called believers to do. Nowhere in the Bible is there any reference or command to “invite people to church” nor is there a command to build brick and mortar institutions. Just before Jesus ascended into heaven He gave a command “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…” (Matthew 28:19-20).

The idea of “inviting someone to church” is nothing more than a “tradition of man” and a lazy, fearful excuse for not obeying the real command that Jesus gave believers. But “what is wrong with inviting someone to church” you may ask? There are a couple of reasons that it is deception.

First, the “Church” is not a building, place or meeting. God’s church is not, never has been and never will be a building or religious meeting. The modern term “church” comes from the word κυριακός (kyriakos) which means “of the Lord” or “special to the Lord.” This word is used twice in the Bible, but the word that most appropriately defines the church is the word ἐκκλησίαν (ekklēsian). The word ekklēsian is from ekklēsía, a compound word from ek, “out from and to” and kaléō, “to call” and literally means “called out from” the world and “to” God.  This is the word that Jesus used to define exactly what the church was to be. In Matthew 16:18 Jesus used a play on words to describe the foundation and future of His church. “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matthew 16:18). The play on words that Jesus used is very important because it clearly signifies the foundation of His church as being people. Jesus said “you are Peter” Πέτρος (Pétros), a pebble or small stone, “and upon this rock” πέτρᾳ (Pétra), bedrock, “solid or native rock, rising up through the earth “, “I will build my church” ἐκκλησίαν (ekklēsian). The analogy is that of small pebbles forming a rock mountain that protrudes out of the earth. Pebbles like Peter, and us, would become a force against which the gates of hell could not prevail! In this scripture Jesus was clearly talking about His church which is all of Christianity, past, present and future. Not a building or a cathedral or a meeting, but people who have transferred their trust to Jesus past, present and future.

Second, inviting someone to church does not confront that person with the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The first component of the mission found in verse 19 is “Go and make disciples of the nations.” The word “Go” is πορευθέντες (poreuthentes) from poreuomai which 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.

Third, what if they do not go to church? What if they die in their sins having been invited to church? What if they decide, “someday I’ll go to church”? How would we feel standing before God looking back and seeing people who are in hell because we “invited” them to church. How will we explain that we followed the “doctrine of man” rather than the “commandment of God”?

“But my pastor told me to invite people to church”!

“What did ‘I’ tell you to do in My Word?”

The “National Back to Church Sunday” is as unbiblical and rooted in the tradition of man as the notion of “inviting someone to church”.

I covered this topic in more detail in the article “Inviting Someone to Church is NOT Evangelism!” and “Fulfilling the Great Commission.

Share the gospel with someone then invite them to be a part of the “ekklēsía”.

God Bless!


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