Have you ever brought an unsaved friend to church only to find that the pastor was on vacation that week and someone else (i.e. someone less interesting) is speaking instead? Or how about the pastor was there, but he decided to speak on something weird that day, like Elisha calling the bears out of the woods to maul 42 children for making fun of his bald head (2 Kings 2:23-24). Seriously, God?! Is this what my atheist on-the-verge-of-being-saved friend needs to hear? Or how about the Spirit really moves that day and things get all crazy in worship? Or the opposite… The worship pastor has chosen the most depressing un-seeker-friendly songs you have ever heard! I bet you slumped down in your seat and thought, “Wow, they are never coming back!” What’s a person to do if their own church can’t even get it right?
It actually happened recently at our church. An atheist friend of some of the students in the youth ministry came to our Sunday worship service. We have been learning about the life of David, but this particular part included a story about God striking Uzzah dead for touching the Ark of the Covenant in an attempt to catch it and keep it from falling. (You can read more bout that here: 1 Chronicles 13:9-12 and 2 Samuel 6:1-7 and can actually watch the sermon from our pastor here) As I was listening to the message, I leaned over to my husband and jokingly mentioned that the weird sermons always happen on days when we have unbelieving visitors.
Did our pastor really get it wrong? Did he choose the wrong part of the Bible to teach from? (As if there is such a thing!) My husband is our worship pastor and he never wants to be a distraction or hinderance to church members or visitors. I happen to know that he prayerfully considers every aspect of our worship gathering. I think it’s okay to have faith in your church leaders and know that they are going to speak the truth of God’s Word! So what is the issue? Why does it seem like they are letting us down when we bring a friend to church?
The Ugly Truth
If you are having experiences like this then I give you this suggestion: Stop bringing your friends to church to get saved. Think about it… If your evangelism approach is to invite people to church, you’re doing it wrong. And by “it” I mean discipleship. That’s really what all us Christians are supposed to be doing… making disciples.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The bottom line is this: Yes, invite your friends to a church gathering, but don’t expect it do the work for you! Your friends should know more about your Christianity than just your church attendance. There’s not anything in the above verses that says “bring your friends to church.” Rather, it implies that you should be the church wherever you go.