What should draw people to a local church?
What should Christians be concerned about?
What is the mission of the church?
I was recently discussing these questions with a dear brother in the Lord and thought I’d post my thoughts on them here. Here’s my one paragraph summary. I thought I’d call it “The circle of spiritual life”. If you need to pause to sing the Lion King song, that’s OK. I did.
I don’t think events should be the drawing factor to our local churches. The people should be. The gospel – lived out in the lives, families, neighborhoods and workplaces of every Christian should be what draws people to them and to a local church. Holy Spirit enabled gospel living should draw them, Holy Spirit enabled preaching (from the pulpit and the pew) should convert and disciple them and prayer-fueled, Holy Spirit enabled evangelism should unite and mobilize them (young and old believers) to go live out the gospel in their lives, families, neighborhoods and workplaces to draw more non-Christians toward Christ and the church.
Think about Acts 5 for a moment. Paraphrasing verses 1-16 –
Ananias and Sapphira lie, Ananias and Sapphira die
The people greatly feared, believers highly revered
Many believe and are saved, the sick in the streets are laid
Do you see what happened here? God established how serious He was about sin in his newly established institution, the local church. A. and P. tested that policy and it cost them their lives. Godliness was exalted. Holiness was preserved in the church. Did the apostles then turn around and announce to the crowd they were hosting a blowout Christian rock concert next Saturday if anyone wanted to come and hear about Jesus? No. Instead, the crowd of unbelievers saw the holiness of the God these Christians served and were scared to be around them. They knew that whatever this sect was, it wasn’t one you joined flippantly.
Yet, the Lord still added to their numbers! Once the holiness and awesomeness of God was established, the gospel could be clearly preached and the Holy Spirit could do His work of conviction, regeneration and conversion. Sin was shown for what it was and truth pierced the hearts of the outsiders allowing the blood-red thread of the gospel to do it’s work of grace in their hearts.
And the circle continued. Those who were truly converted, in turn went out and continued to live godly, proclaim the risen Christ and, as the Lord gave the increase, more were added to their number (6:7; 9:31; 11:24; 12:24; 13:49; 16:14). And on, and on, and on. And the circle still continues today; all the way to someone who heard the good news, believed and then shared it with you. Praise God that His circle will never break. His gospel will never cease to go forth, until all things be made new. This is the method God uses to draw the world, not events. Events can be used by God’s people, but in and of themselves they are not enough to reach the world.
We must live holy lives, strive for Christ likeness, boldly proclaim the word, faithfully disciple those who believe and serve our community if we would see the crowds begin to approach our doors for the right reasons.