I've heard of a few gimmicks about getting people to come to church recently. It sort of gets my blood pumping when conversations start about it, so what better place for me to lay it all out there, but here....my beloved blog. ----and Warning 1- it's all over the place!
I've heard people say things about youth groups that offer pizza, candy, giveaways and other "bribes" to get the teens to come to church. I've heard about churches giving away TVs and cars and gift cards to get people into the doors of the church. Here's my take on it....and (WARNING 2) you're probably not gonna like it.
I think it's sad. Good gravy! I think it's shameful. I think it's absolutely embarrassing....but for reasons other than the obvious. In Bible times people came to hear Jesus for all different reasons....some just wanted to be healed...they had no other purpose, had no idea what He could really do for them. Some were skeptics and went to see Jesus so they could prove Him wrong, they had no idea what He could really do for them. Some came because they were invited....or perhaps someone came because they heard that He might feed them....He had turned the water to wine and multiplied 5 loaves and 2 fish- maybe they came thinking they might get something to eat. Some came because they had a loved one who needed healing. They had heard about Him and wanted to see if He could do the same for them. Anyway....it wasn't important why they went....many of these people were change forever- eternally- because they came for the wrong reason.
So, I don't really care about what it takes to get someone inside a church to hear God's Word. What I do care about is why it is necessary. 2000 years since Christ came, shouldn't the church (in general) be doing an extraordinary job of sharing Christ, being His hands and feet, loving on people, meeting the needs of the poor and sick and hurting ...that people are wondering what is different and we then lead them through the doors of the church to share with them this wonderful, fulfilling, healing, comforting relationship that they can have with Christ too? Shouldn't our lives be different enough that when someone comes to the place that they realize they are empty and broken, that they know they can come to us and we will share the answer- JESUS- with them?
I don't know about you, but for me, the sad part about the gimmicks used to draw people into church, is that it just shows that Christians aren't doing, being and living out our faith. If we were, people would be wondering in amazement about this JESUS we say we love. They'd be curious that we could forgive so easily, love so freely and be so generous. They'd be knocking on our doors asking for directions. Times is too scarce to worry about how we are getting people into the church. Make haste! Start living out your faith...don't wait til Sunday or Easter or Christmas to invite someone....they may look at you like they are surprised you even attend church. Do it now....live it now...talk it now...be the church...at home, work, play, school. We have the antedote to sin....share it however you have to.
Don't worry....any games we play have already been played. Daily in most of our lives....old habits, addictive behaviors, gossip, lying, cheating, tearing down the church, envying the size 6 figure of another woman, yelling hateful things to our spouse. I don't know....just seems like there's more game playing going on with people personally that we don't have a lot of room to be pointing our fingers at the church.
PS- I've personally been involved in the lives of many people who came to church because we gave them food. I'm convinced that if the church was busy taking care of the widows, orphans, impoverished and indigent that God would bless. Obedience to His New Testament Commandments would make National Healthcare, Foodstamps, Medicaid and other government assistance programs unnecessary. ---and we would be filling our churches with changed lives....people who understand their need for Christ and His Bride.
Stepping off the soapbox.