If you grew up in church, or have been a part of one for a while, you have undoubtedly heard over and over again the emphasis on inviting people to come to church with you. Be it a church service, event, group, etc. And while inviting others is a good thing, it is not and should not be the ultimate thing.
In my lifetime, more than anything else, inviting people to come with you to church or to join your community has been the most important thing. Now I’m sure many would say that isn’t the most important thing they want to see those in their church community do, however when we emphasize something so much, that is what everyone comes to believe.
That being a “faithful Christian” means they invite their friends, family, and coworkers to church. And as long as they do that, they have done their part.
This approach must change.
Increasingly, less and less people have any desire to go to or be a part of a church. Maybe that even describes you. Since that is the case, inviting people to something will not lead to people meeting Jesus they way it once did. It just won’t.
So we need to shift our emphasis.
Christian or not, you know that your community (those you surround yourself with) has more influence on your life than anything else. This is why parents tell their kids to make good friends. It doesn’t matter how good the kid is, if they are friends with kids who get in trouble, they also will eventually start getting to trouble.
This is why if you are a business owner and want to succeed, you have to meet and learn and grow from other successful business owners. If you want to improve as an athlete or an artist, you’ve got to find people to mentor, coach, and train you to be better.
Or here is my favorite. If you want to be a winner and part of a winning fan base, then you should be a Duke fan. Because Duke has won two national championships in this decade alone in college basketball, and UNC hasn’t won any!
So because it is true that your relationships, not your intelligence, self determination, or anything else, has the greatest influence on you, then if you know Jesus and want others to know Jesus, you have to invest in relationships with those who don’t know Jesus.
Listen, I am all for inviting people. Right now we are in the process of planting New City Church and certainly are inviting people to join our team, but that cannot be and is not the ultimate goal.
How are people far from Jesus going to meet Jesus unless they are in community with people who know Jesus?
Which means, if you are a Christian, you have to intentionally develop a friendship with someone who does not know Jesus, and include them as a part of your community.
Here’s the good news; it doesn’t matter how much Bible knowledge you have or how long you have even been a Christian. All this means is that you take the lead in making sure you consistently spend time together. That you are open and honest with them about your struggles and doubts.
Bryan Loritts, a leader in the desire to make churches more multi-ethnic says it this way.
Who are you doing life with that doesn’t act like, think like, or vote like you do?
Want to know who you should invest in? Ask that coworker or acquaintance that meets that description and ask them to go to lunch, and make it a consistent thing. Should you eventually invite them to church? Sure. But even if they decline, they will still be able to see Jesus through you.
Be faithful. Invest in someone. See what God does. Chances are you’ll learn a lot from them as well.