The Glorious Hot-Mess of Church

I just recently saw a video of a pastor talking about what draws unchurched people to church.  His response was very telling.  Programs and events may get people in the door, but they’re not the kind of thing that will keep people showing up.  As Jared Wilson likes to say, “What you win them with is what you win them to.”  In the video, this pastor spoke about how a kids program or a dynamic and relatable pastor or an outstanding music ministry are all fine things, but they are not what will attract lost people to the church.


Ephesians 4:11-16 reads:

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

The model here is the 5-fold minister equips the church to minister and then the body matures and grows.

This isn’t an indictment on a congregation, but it’s a jumping off point for taking a look at the church.

I see individuals in churches who are dissatisfied with the status quo, thinking that changes to X-Y-and-Z will change the course of the church.  When talking about outreach from within the walls of the church, I hear the phrase, “Why would they come?” The idea is that somehow if we make a change, people will start to come because somehow the church will have something to offer to the outsider, the lost.

The church already has something to offer to the lost.  Something unique in the marketplace of ideas–the gospel of Jesus Christ.

So, how do we start getting people in the door to hear that idea?

Well, here’s a ground-breaking suggestion…

Invite people to church!

I know that’s quite the novel idea, and I know that we sometimes look at our churches and say, “I don’t want to invite someone here, they won’t like it.”, “We’re too stodgy for this person to enjoy the service.”, or “I want people to want to come back, and there are days when I don’t want to come back.”  Here are a few questions to answer about the church you attend which may help you in your invitation motivation:

  1. Does the pastor preach the Bible and more specifically preach the gospel of Christ in his messages?
  2. Does the music point toward the great and mighty God whom you serve?
  3. Does the church have imperfect and sometimes difficult to get along with people in attendance?
  4. Do the people in the church need to grow to maturity?

If you can answer yes to these questions, then you should absolutely be inviting people to come to your church regularly.

The glorious hot-mess of the church is precisely why we should invite people to it.  In looking at the flaws, in looking at the brokenness, in looking at the out-and-out humanness of the church, people will see that God is the agent of reconciliation, the creator of unity.  The beauty of the ugliness of church is that if God is central then God is glorified.  Invite people to church so they can experience the reality that God is good, even when people aren’t.

Whether its 10, 20, 50, 200, or 10,000 people, gathering together under the banner of Christ is an experience worth inviting people to join, especially when you don’t feel like asking people to join it because it might not suit them (or you for that matter).

When you invite people to church, you invite them to come and meet God.

You invite them to join in with the heavenly chorus that eternally praises the King of Kings.

And that is reason enough.





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