It’s Sunday: what about those we’re missing altogether? That question drives my heart and mind as a pastor. I care deeply for those who gather with us whenever we meet as the church, but I’m more haunted by the many who don’t.
On any average Sunday morning, millions pass by buildings in which people gather to praise God, care for each other, receive healing and forgiveness, listen to God’s Word and be sent back into their week re-ordered around God’s kingdom come.
And they pass by because they don’t know the gathering is for them. They are either unaware, uninterested, or uninvited. “Church”, they think (if it crosses their mind at all), is “for other people, not for me.”
But I’m convinced that’s not true. In fact, I’m absolutely committed to helping people who think God is irrelevant and church is outdated move toward meaningful engagement in this life-giving community of faith. To put more of a point on it, I’m committed to helping Christians eliminate many barriers preventing others from gathering with the church, so that they can really hear about Jesus. Those barriers could be unhelpful traditions, unwelcoming practices, inaccessible language or inward-focused programs. Or it could be that they’ve never been invited by Christians who care. In the words of Craig Groeschel, we should be willing to do whatever it takes, short of sin, to help people find Jesus.
Whatever the reason, I long for the day when churches provide welcoming atmospheres of exploration, even as they sing songs of praise to Jesus, receive life-transforming truth from Scripture, and offer pathways to follow Jesus, wherever people are at spiritually.
Day 21: Praying For All Those Who Pass By The Church
So, would you pray with me today, on yet another average Sunday, for all those who would pass by unknowingly? Our prayer is not that they simply “come to church.” We have a much bigger vision than that! Our prayer is that those who are far away from the life-giving love of Jesus would receive the Spirit’s invitation, offered through his people, into the grace-and-truth body of Christ. And that in that community, they would discover the Father who loves them, the Son who died for them, and the Spirit who wants to bring them to life. Let’s pray for those who don’t know that we are for them.
And we need to pray for ourselves, too–for Christian churches. Let’s pray that we become relentlessly committed to doing whatever it takes to make the gospel available and the church accessible to people, wherever they are at. Lord, help us see people with your eyes, and do whatever we have to do, short of sin, to help them find you. Give us the courage to give up comfort and convenience and safety for the sake of others.
That’s my prayer for today, and I invite you to pray along with me. May we, God’s people, make room in our lives, in our gathered communities, in our hearts and minds, for all those God is drawing to himself, by his Spirit.