by Rev. James Wong
Why invite people to church? Why do we want the church to grow with new people? It is a simple question but it will dig into the motive behind what we do. We may be motivated by the wrong reasons and some of them include the following:
The thrill of having a big crowd. A big crowd on Sunday morning helps you to feel good and the people moving around makes the place electrifying. Crowd gives you a sense of success and progress. Nothing wrong with this but this is not the reason. However, never think that the numbers are not important.
To replace the old. You realize that the church where you grew up and found faith years ago are left with elderly people. You are worn out serving in various ministries and you want to retire from leadership but there is no one around to continue. The most sensible thing to do is to bring in new people with the hope that they will one day be your baton bearer. This is a reason of convenience.
To have people we can relate to. Pastors and young people are motivated to look for people whom they can relate to. They feel bored relating to old folks who do not understand or share their tastes or interest. But visitors who are needy and desperate are not welcomed with enthusiasm. The widowed senior citizen is not a priority but young professionals are of prime importance. If Jesus came for the high-class, he would have left you and me out!
Only one valid motive. Although the above are valid reasons for inviting people to church, there is only one right motive for doing so. We do it because Christ cares for them. The love of God reaches out to everyone outside the church. “For God so loved the world” (John 3:16) is the basis of the Good News. It is God’s will that He “wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” that there is forgiveness and salvation in his son Jesus Christ (1 Tim 2:4-5). The local church of Christ is where people can experience God’s grace of love and forgiveness.
In the parable of the lost sheep, the shepherd leaves the ninety-nine that are safe and goes to look for the one that is lost until he finds it. When he finds it he goes home and gathers his friends and neighbors to celebrate his find. Jesus ended the parable by saying: “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent” (Luke 15:7). One is more important than ninety-nine in this instance.
The numbers are important to God. More lost people must be added to His church. God uses you and me to do it and we do it out of love. Love someone and invite them to Church.