Can people get into your church?
Bear with me. I am aware that mission is not just about getting people to come to your church. It’s about taking the signs and message of God’s kingdom to people where they are at. But what happens next? What if, God don’t forbid, people respond?
Inherent in the Gospel is the invitation to join the family of God. A person getting baptised is not only submitting themselves individually to Jesus and coming to personal peace with God. They are also joining the Church.
So I see four options for a Sacred Agent who is taking the signs and message of God’s kingdom to people: (1) Assume there’ll be no response. Go fishing without a bucket. Panic if you catch something. (2) Recommend churches other than your own to people who respond to the Gospel. Throw your fish into other people’s buckets and let them clean ‘em. (3) Plant a new church around each new person who responds to the Gospel. (4) Or, (gasp!) invite them to your church.
But can they get in, even with an invitation? Just as you might do with your church buildings, give thought to how accessible is your church community.
Does the church bus drop people right at the entrance, or six blocks down the street? Does your church have ministries that move people from disinterested to interested, but none that move people from interested to in?
Are there clear pathways to the entrance? Does your church have obvious places for those who need to start at the start – like Alpha courses or other spaces where people can ask their questions and be led to Jesus?
Is the door unlocked? Is it openly and explicitly agreed that your church will, in Jesus’ name, welcome and share hospitality with tax collectors and sinners?
Are there clear signs that newcomers and inquirers are welcome? Are the signs of welcome on the faces of your people? Does our embrace of trembling new believers reflect the one received by the Prodigal Son? Are they emphatically celebrated and assured of their place in the family?
Agents, our commission is not just to share the Gospel, but to make disciples. That happens in Christian community – if people can get in.