I recently received an invitation to a church in our area. It was a very nice postcard that told me a lot of info about the church. It even had a little map of where the church is located. And then I saw it, the part that read, ‘Bring this card for a free gift.’ It was the one piece of info that didn’t fit. I really liked the card, and may even swing by there, but not because I want a free gift. And not to belabor the point or beat it to death, but shouldn’t it be Christ and his message, the one sustaining Hope for our lives that draws people to church? I have no idea what the free gift is, but I can only imagine it’s a welcome packet. But my mind instantly goes to the proverbial used car salesman that sends out a coupon for a hundred bucks off a car that is already a hundred dollars too much – gimmick. Is it the consumer mentality of church folk that requires church meetings to give out gifts so we’ll show up. Since I’m not a non-believer, I can’t really know what a free gift would impress on me. No idea.
“Acts 2:47 With one accord they continued to meet daily in the temple courts and to break bread from house to house, sharing their meals with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
In the book of Acts, when the church family met from house to house, breaking bread, people were saved and this is how God added numbers to His church. What’s interesting about this scripture is the ‘method’ if you will that Acts presents. It was a fellowship of people in their own houses that connected the church to new folk and increased the numbers in the church. This is more of a humble approach that is people-to-people and not one person to many.
As the church flock, we think it’s only the pastor’s job to get more people in the church. We interact as consumers of church stuff.
In large part, this is a by-product of the spectator church. Folk go to church once or twice a week, pay something in the offering plate (or not) and then go on about their week knowing they’ve paid their dues. Just like traffic court (not confessing I have any experience with traffic court), people go because they feel they have to go, they spend an hour or more a week, then they go on about their week. We think the pastor is a superhero with multiple selves that can do it all. So we don’t invite anyone to church, because after all, the pastor is getting paid, that’s his job eh? Our job is to attend. Or at least that’s what the spectator church is all about. And when the pastor asks for help, we immediately catalog all the things we have to do every week, and we just don’t have time for midweek church stuff. We are super busy.
The world is searching for one thing, Hope. And it’s more than fellowship because the bars have fellowship covered. There’s little in terms of entertainment or fellowship the church meeting can compete with. The difference in the church meeting fellowship is Message. A message of Jesus Christ and his salvation. That is the only difference between church meeting fellowship and let’s say a Moose Lodge.
So what should the church look like? If we take away from Acts that it is regular folk to connect other folks with the message of Jesus, then a humble fellowship where we realize that we are willing to help each other is closer to the church in Acts than a bunch of people sitting in seats once a week.
About the author: Steven Davis is well-done preacher’s kid, recovering social worker, musician, and media producer.