What if the church didn’t “send” missionaries but instead it (the church) was a missionary?
The Great Commission was given to the whole church, and everyone in it–but we’ve turned it into a job for a handful of people, and have ignored the rest beyond asking for their prayers and money.
Someone asked me that question recently and the answer is simple: because people typically don’t make long-term, life-changing decisions right at that moment in a worship service. In my experience most people who come forward are doing so out of a sense of obligation or guilt or emotion only. I believe that the Christian walk is best done in relationship with other Christians and specifically as part of a local church family. That’s why I know 99% of the time beforehand who’s coming up on a given Sunday if I give an “invitation” to confess Christ, recommit your life to Christ, or officially join our church. That doesn’t mean I won’t surprise people at times or be surprised.
So we don’t do the traditional altar calls but depending on the message I do give “invitations.” I just won’t sing 6 songs in order to get people to come forward. If the Holy Spirit isn’t urging them in the first 3 minutes then I don’t think any music or verbal manipulation should be done. Manipulation? Yes, if I really want people to come forward and make a decision, I can get that done. I did it when I first got into ministry. But then I saw the reality of those decisions a week later. Most of those decisions have no accountability and are more like New Year’s resolutions. Few succeed. Many churches have gone to a similar understanding. But that doesn’t mean altar calls are bad or wrong…just memorable. Like this…
What do you think? What’s your experience?
In the Garden of Eden after the first sin, the initial evidence came when Adam and Eve saw “that they were naked.” They had been naked all along, but not until sin came did they take their eyes off God and put them on themselves. This is always what sin does. Before, God had been the center of their attention and devotion. Sin entered the picture, and their focus became centered squarely on themselves.
God in His grace intervened because all the ways we try to use to cover our sin never work. God took an innocent little animal, killed it, and covered Adam and Eve with its skin. That animal became the first to the know the expensive toll that sin takes on one’s life.
Hebrews 9:22, “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood,and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
When all is said and done, what difference will it make if we drive luxury cars, eat vitamin-enriched foods, live in palatial homes, and are buried in mahogany caskets if we rise up in judgment to meet a God we do not know?
Romans 2:4, “The goodness of God leads you to repentance.”
Let His goodness take you by the hand today. He will lead you to repentance.
We serve not to convert; we serve because we’ve been converted. This is a vital distinction, but service and proclamation go hand in hand. We must a proclaim a message, but those around us need to see that message in action. Proclamation is most powerful in the context of a loving, caring, serving relationship.