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The Shame of Today’s Church?

No, it’s not marketing. Not mega-churches. Not theology-lite.  Not flashing lights or rock bands.  The greatest shame of the church today is that as church members, we don’t bring our non-believing friends.  Evangelical churches in the third world are exploding – all without marketing, hip pastors, video screens, or multilevel parking.  They’re growing because people are bringing their friends.  We have to remember that we’re telling the greatest story ever told, but if no one’s listening, we’ve failed.

I think the question we’ll get when we arrive in heaven won’t be why didn’t you buy the latest video cameras, or hire a better graphic designer, or install the latest HD screens in the sanctuary.   More likely, it will be why you didn’t take the time to share the gospel with your neighbor and invite them to church….

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  1. Ah too true Phil! As a mega-church pastor, I know unless people get plugged in and begin to see themselves as disciples with a big vision to reach the lost we will become one big country club.

  2. As a technical director of a church in Los Angeles, this is a very sobering post. Well said Phil, thanks for reminding us of the individual responsibility to invite people to church.

  3. research has shown that as much as 80% growth in USA churches is from transfer growth. We know large attendance does not success make….I wonder if we are not comfortable inviting our neighbors because we ourselves are not be comfortable within the walls our own churches? Your point is well taken, but the true church was never to be inside four walls leaving the salvation message up to the Pastor’s alter call… we are supposed to be the “living church” out in the marketplace.

  4. That’s great, simple perspective Phil. Loved this. So easy to forget the very reason we do all the other stuff…to make it easy and attractive for people to say “yes, I’ll accept your invitation.” We do the rest, and leave the most important part out…”the ask.” 21st century seems to be shaping up as the era of great church marketing, behind which the sales force is hiding.

  5. Well said. It is easy to forget where your Christ journey began. I am a Christ follower today because a 14 year old girl invited me to church every week for 2 years straight. We must extend the same invite we received long ago.

  6. I don’t know. I think among unbelievers there is a significant turn-off to Christianity because the most prominent evangelicals seem to care more about the conservative / Republican agenda than they care about Christianity.

    1. And since the “Obamanation of Desolation (TM — too good a pun to pass up)” made it into the White House, there has also been a dark streak of Randian Objectivism entering into these “prominent evangelical activists”. You find a lot of Objectivists in the Libertarian and Tea Party movements, and it’s cross-contaminating the Christian political agenda industry.

  7. True… I’ve been around a group lately that are so hung up on the study of the bible that they miss the message of the bible. John 14-16 makes it clear that we’re to be doers not just hears. We’ve lost the burden for souls- where’s that burning desire for the lost? Do we even care or have become the church at Ladocia?

  8. Preach it!! No only the non-believing friends but even those that are either struggling or have walked away from the Lord. There are so many we will be held accountable for just standing and watching with out doing a thing. I think many church goers are just going to the what’s-in-it-for-me mentality. Our Young Adult Pastor, Josh Briscoe, said this the other day that has really made an impact on me:

    The reason America is like it is 2day is cause we’ve (the church) been raising church goers not raising up disciples. – @joshbriscoe

    I totally believe that if we were true disciples we’d be sharing our faith and loving the lost and our world would be a completely different place!!!

  9. Great post Phil, but I’m curious what you think is the “why” people don’t bring friends to church. I have to believe that getting to the root cause is more motivating than just making people feel more guilty about not asking friends.

    What’s the “why”?

    Thanks again.

  10. You’ve got this pretty much backwards, Phil. The biggest shame is the fact that we’re not taking it to them. Light shines in darkness, not in lightbulb factories. The great commission is to “go out.” we should be a living witness… OUT THERE.
    Church is for Christians. Most sinners are too averse to it. And mostly because they’ve already been to church, God help us. In other cultures, it’s different. In America, we need to quit DOING church and start BEING church.

    1. Like the image of “Light shines in darkness, not in lightbulb factories”.

      However, with Christian Enclaving and the resulting knockoffs of outside cultural fads, it is now possible for an Evangelical to age from birth or Altar Call to Homegoing (TM) without ever having to encounter one of those Heathens (TM) except for in-your-face drive-by prosletyzing sallies.

      “Testamints — Just like Altoids, Except CHRISTIAN (TM)!”
      “GodTube — Just like YouTube, Except CHRISTIAN (TM)!”
      “Guitar Praise– Just like Guitar Hero, Except CHRISTIAN (TM)!”
      “Faithbook– Just like Facebook, Except CHRISTIAN (TM)!”
      “Johnny Hammer(?)– Just like Justin Beiber, Except CHRISTIAN (TM)!”
      “Christian Chirp– Just like Twitter, Except CHRISTIAN (TM)!”

  11. On target. Personal evangelism is a lost art in the US for a number of not-so-good reasons (too busy, working to many hours, too many toys to take care of, etc.). We need to get back to seeking first the Kingdom of God.

  12. the shame of today’s church is that in my city of 40,000 (And replicated throughout US cities) there are over 80 churches NONE of them working together. Each is protecting their own turf. Jesus said in John 17 that when His disciples acted as one the world would know the Father sent Him. Maybe if we restructure church so they don’t act like independently owned and operated businesses, so that pastors and churches within a city meet together and share a common mission (i.e. the lost), maybe then we wouldn’t be ashamed to bring our friends to a place where they will be treated like a child of God rather than protected clientle.

  13. I think that we have forgotten HOW to invite people to church. Most invites sound something like, “Hey, you should check this out, if you have the time, I mean, I like it, its not like you think, maybe, you know, if you’re interested, you might, you know, check it out, we have really cool screens & lights & music.”

    I’d like to suggest a different approach.

    I believe that when inviting someone to church we have to remember that we are not inviting them to go shopping, bowling or to a movie. We are inviting them to an opportunity for a better life, a free life, a life of relationship with our creator. When we ask someone to come with us to our worship experience it has to come from a place of trust. The kind of trust that communicates that the inviter has the invitee’s best in mind.

    It might sound something like,”Hey John, you know I care about you & I really want to share something with you that has changed my life. I am asking you to trust me and trust that I really believe in what I am asking you to do. It would be an honor if you would come with me to my church this weekend. It starts at 10:30 and I will pick you up at 10. We can get a cup of coffee on the way.”

    If we as leaders can teach church members how to invite their neighbors, I believe that change will happen in the church, in people’s lives, in our lives.

  14. I think sharing the Gospel for sure is neglected, but bringing one into the “modern” day church will cause a new convert to stumble, There are very few Holy Spirit lead churches in our day, Most are so fleshly that the world would find their ease in it.

  15. We just started this at our church. Handing out what looks like a business cards to people to invite them to church. It’ll work, because just taking a step of faith to do what is right opens up the doors for others to receive.

  16. Of course you are presuming that when our friends come they get something they can appreciate as worth their time. Maybe there is a difference in the message 3rd world evangelical churches are preaching.

  17. Doesn’t really line up with the Bible, Phil. But when you are used to marketing, you get used to marketing-mind-thinking. Ala… “No, it’s not this. Not that. Not the next thing. GET READY! It’s SUCH-and-SUCH. Today, it’s SUCH and SUCH, because yesterday it wasn’t.”

    Jesus said nothing about bringing non-believing friends. Jesus said the doctrine He spoke of was His Father’s. Jesus really didn’t like wrong doctrine, or what you refer to as “theology-lite.”

    But Marketing-brains work just always the same way. Something is something (newest is truest) because they NOW say it’s so, as compared to what those in marketing said was so yesterday.

    Nice work, if you can get it. Problem is, you get the work from people who want to believe marketing-mind is God’s mind, which it isn’t.

    Next time, Phil, think about the red letters more, and marketing-think less.

    1. Wow Robert. Encouraging corporate worship doesn’t line up with the Bible? Trying to bring people into a local church fellowship is just a “marketing” thing?
      And even if you were right, the Bible doesn’t talk about brushing your teeth, but I’ll bet you do that….

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