A few years back the elders of Calvary Bible Church put me over our benevolence ministry. Among other things, this means that I personally speak to each person that comes in during the week seeking some type of physical help. While we get some new folks that come in from time to time, most of the time this responsibility has me talking to our regulars.
One of our regulars popped in yesterday because he needed some groceries and so I began to think of how I could engage him with the gospel without it sounding too clinical or forced. I have shared the gospel with this man a few times before, so I was also thinking of a different angle to come at him from. He had just recently purchased a car (he has been riding the bus for the last eighteen months), so I jumped on the opportunity to invite him to church again. I said something like, “Now that you’ve got a car, it’ll be a lot easier for you to visit us on a Sunday morning” (smooth transitions are not my forte). He smiled and nodded, acknowledging my statement, but didn’t say anything. So, in my mind, I began frantically thinking of where I could go next to move closer to the gospel.
Suddenly the Lord led me to think of the reason that is associated with church-going for many people – to earn brownie points with God. This became my avenue for gospel-telling. God was gracious in giving me the words to speak to dispel any notion of works-righteousness that may have been present in this man’s thinking about why people attend church. I was able to tell him that for Christians church-going is a response to what God has done for us in sending Christ to take our place on the cross. In this way church becomes a celebration of God’s grace wherein we worship God together and hear from him through his Word.
Why did I think this was worth mentioning today? Because I think inviting unbelievers to church is still a legitimate aspect of pointing them to Jesus, but such an invitation can often fall on deceived (or confused at best) ears. Therefore, there is much potential for turning the church invitation itself into an opportunity to share God’s free gift of salvation.