For years, we have invited people to come to church. Successful evangelism has consisted of persuading our friends and family to join us at church. We have run special and exciting meetings with professional bands and gifted speakers. Even many of our simple/house churches have had this same mindset; invite someone to church, and pray that the presence of God touches their lives. And, praise God, many have found the Lord in this way. (First Corinthians 14 makes it very clear that there will sometimes be unbelievers in our gatherings.)
One problem: it's not what Jesus told us to do! And it's not the most effective means of changing lives.
Jesus told us, "Go (or more specifically, 'as you are going'), make disciples." As we go about our everyday lives we are looking for opportunities to make disciples.
Why is this important? If we invite people to come to our church, who moves out of their comfort zone? They do. Church is a very strange culture for most people who were not brought up in it. When we go to them, we are the ones that cross cultural boundaries and go to their culture where they are comfortable. Not only that, their friends and families are comfortable there too. If we extract people from their own culture by getting them to join us at our church, usually they rapidly become Christianized and lose much of their effectiveness within their own circle of influence. If they become Christians in their own environment, we have the opportunity to reach out to their oikos.
Paradigm shift: If we invite someone to come to church, we will reach that person. If we go to them, we will reach them and their circle of influence too.
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2 replies on “Ways to see more harvest: a paradigm shift”
the same problem for any church whether organized or organic. As we live by Jesus life with one another, praying for one another (“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful”), encouraging one another, etc we should also pray that Jesus would open our eyes to being “wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Col 4:5-6. God’s life and His timing are absolutely vital!
Nice post, very nice. The problem with your post is just what you state, many in the church don’t want to be out of their comfort zones, or are too often encouraged to stay in someone else’s in their community.
Love this post though. It’s the challenge that many need to grow up into.