A Great Reason to Stop Going to Church

In reaching people for Jesus it’s customary to look for opportunities to “invite people to church." It’s not unusual to pray for people to “come to church.”

Inviting people to church is not a method of evangelism Jesus and His first disciples used.

Actually, it may be better if we stop going to church.

It’s easy to forget that the Christian church began as a movement of people responding to the influence of the Holy Spirit.

In the beginning, people didn’t gather in buildings called churches. Wherever two or three of God’s people gathered together in Jesus’ name, the church was there because Jesus was there, in the presence of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 18:10).

The church was always God’s people fellowshipping, studying and worshipping in synagogues, homes and in the open air of the countryside or village square.

Maybe it’s just me, but when I invite people to church I want to remember I’m not inviting them to a building. I'm inviting them to an opportunity to connect with God’s people, in hopes that they will experience the presence of Jesus in the words and actions of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12).

Perhaps that’s why Jesus said, "By this all will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35).

Now let’s close the loop on something I said earlier. Jesus and His first disciples didn’t invite people to church. This makes sense when we remember the people were the church, and that wherever the people gathered, there was the church. This is still true today. Church is not a place to go, but it is who we are as the body of Christ in the world.

Having said that, have you ever noticed that Jesus commissioned His church to “go” — He may have done this more than He called them to “invite”?

“These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: "Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10:5-6, NKJV)

“Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.” (Matthew 22:9, NKJV)

“Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:60, NKJV)

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” (John 15:16, NKJV)

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.” (Matthew 28:19-20, NKJV)

To take this one step further, the Bible teaches us that while Jesus is the Head of the church, we also meet Him outside the church when we go to our friends, strangers, and enemies in our community and minister to their needs.

"Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me." (Matthew 25:37-40)

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