Sunday, November 27, 2011

When Church is a Hotel for Saints

We had an interesting service in church yesterday as we were reminded of the parable from Luke chapter fourteen in which a certain man was hosting a banquet and sent invitations out which were rejected because of various excuses: "I just bought a field; I just purchased oxen; I just got married..."

Finally the master sent his servants out to the "roads and the country lanes" inviting those people to come in. (v.28)

We see here that everybody is invited to the marriage supper of The Lamb. In fact God told Abraham in Genesis chapter 22 that through him all nations of the earth would be blessed:
And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. ~ Genesis 22:18
What I also see is that as a servant of Jesus Christ, the call requires me to leave my comfort zone at times in search of the lost. Unfortunately for many of us, that comfort zone ends at our property line.

Inviting people to church where they can get connected and start learning truth from the Word, is a good place to start, but for some reason we don't. Why? Here are three common reasons:
  • We have this idea that church is a hotel for saints. It's our hangout, and we'd prefer it if others didn't cramp our style.
  • We don't think people are interested. We've been ingrained with the idea that nobody wants to attend.
  • We're apathetic. We haven't really thought about it because we have so many other things on our mind.
I've been guilty of all three--in particular number one. Let me tell you a story...

A couple of years ago my kids were attending a day camp at a church near by. One of the neighbors and I got together to car pool. It worked out great for me since our kids were best friends at the time.

The night before the camp started she asked me, "Do you think we should invite Riddy?" (Okay... I changed her name here so Riddy won't freak out if she reads this!)

"Riddy?!" I replied, trying to sound as polite as I possibly could. "She's so misbehaved, I don't know if it's the best idea." Truth was I had been hiding out from this kid for most of the summer, having her in my car was about the last thing I wanted to do.

That's when my friend's wisdom changed the course of my actions, "Yes, Riddy. You never know--she might start going to church."

And so the next day Riddy was sitting in the back of my car poking and teasing my kids while I kept my cool. That was several years ago, and her family is still attending church.

It taught me one of the biggest lessons of my life, which my brother-in-law always echoed so well, "Church isn't a hotel for saints, it's a hospital for sinners."

Did you know:

One of the most underestimated reasons people return to the Church is that someone simply invited them back. Overall, 41% of the formerly churched said that they would return to the local church if a friend or acquaintance invited them. Younger adults are even more influenced by the power of the invitation. Approximately 60% of those 18–35 would consider returning to church if someone they knew asked them to come back. ~ The Rainer Report, "Why People Leave and How to Bring Them Back."

All this to say, maybe we don't have it all figured out, and we just might have some inviting to do. I think Christmas is the perfect time to start, don't you?

You are loved by an almighty God,


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