Inviting to Church: Who needs Whom?

“Do you have a good church home?” is the favorite question of a very dear friend of mine.  This question has deeply affected the way I think about church growth and evangelism.

There have been times in the past when I invited people to church with some hesitancy.  Congregations are not always the ideal place into which to invite someone new.  They (congregations) are, after all, made up of humans.  Many are dysfunctional; some overly and overtly so.

Pleasant though the thought of having the ideal church to which to invite others might be, it is utopian and likely a contributor towards congregational decline happening all over the country.

Asking someone if they have a good church home, on the other hand, does not promise quality or deliver of services. Rather, it potentially awakens within us a desire to have a family beyond our family; a community of people with whom we can share worship and service.

I have been corresponding with  a young couple I know, both of whom grew up in church.  Neither, at this point, is active in a church. They do, however, live lives of service and concern for others, and both maintain an underlying regard for God.

This couple I’ve invited to find a good church home not so much because I feel like they need a church. I am eager for them to become part of a congregation because, in my view, congregations need people like them.

When you think about inviting people to church, is it because you feel like they need church, or the church needs them?

7 thoughts on “Inviting to Church: Who needs Whom?

  1. I feel like it is both. The church is probably more desperate for new members than anyone I would invite is desperate for church. That makes me sad. But I always think that folks I would invite would get something valuable out of attending, and if that were not the case, I would not feel able to invite them at all.

  2. I think of two attitudes one might have toward a given church:
    – I will join this church because it is what God wants a church to be.
    – I will join this church because God has equipped me to contribute to making it what God wants a church to be.

    It would seem that as one matures in the faith one would move from a to b.

    Along those lines, my post-Easter sermon series is fill in the blank themed. On graduate Sunday my title is “How to Stay Christian When You Go to ________” Since it’s graduate Sunday, I’ll put “college” in the blank; but I’ll start by putting “church” in the blank.

  3. If I had to choose one of the two reasons you offer to invite people to church, I would choose that I invite people to church because people need church. I think people need a community of faith like people need nutrients in our food. When I think to invite people to church because the church needs them then I wonder if I am helping to create a co-dependency that is unhealthy. (The church needs people for their resources and thus the church caters to the people in order to have better access to the resources the people bring, ect.)

    People need church like people need light. Sure you can live in the dark of your home all the time but one’s quality of life will slowly diminish and atrophy. The light does not need people, but people need the light. The community of the Triune God does not need people, that community will still go on, but people gain so much from the community of God.

    I know I have shifted the conversation away from the community of Church to the Community of God, so maybe I have just ranted and not answered the question…

  4. Q1. What is the chief end of man?

    A1. To know God and enjoy Him forever.

    Is this truly the meaning and/or end of life? Is it the warp and woof of our daily breathing? If God has made us for Himself, and God has made the Church for witness in the world, then surely the world would find God as work in His Church. We are to be the bride of Christ, redeemed and without stain or blemish presented to God not in our goodness, but through His gracious gift.
    Surely the answer then is that the need is on the part of the world needing to be brought into relationship with God and others in the Church. But just as God exists eternally in relationship with God’s self, then we, as humans, need relationship, because we were created for it. Thus, the Church needs those who don’t know Christ (which at one point all in the Church were).

  5. “People need church like people need light.”

    I’ve lived for decades without church. Couldn’ta done it without light.

    “Sure you can live in the dark of your home all the time but one’s quality of life will slowly diminish and atrophy.”

    Those aren’t the only two options — church vs. “staying in the dark of your home all the time.”

    Broaden your horizons, people.

    • I want church to be the kind of place about which people might say “I need church like people need light.” I’m not so sure about people saying “You (or people in general) need church like people need light.

      That’s way to broad for me to say – if only because the “church” that a lot of people know as church has no more light than the world around it.

      Which reminds me of the but-job USAmerican grad student several years ago who said that, as a Christian, he had more in common with a Chinese Christian (in China) than with any non-Christian in the US.

      How can we expect respect from non-Christians when we spout stuff like that?!

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