The “Come to Us” Mentality.
With apologies to vegetarians, imagine a nice juicy 16oz steak. Imagine the folly of attempting to season the meat by squashing the meat through the narrow neck of a salt shaker!
What kind of crazy fool would do that! Of course, we take the salt, to the meat, and sprinkle liberally!
Yet, this is the mentality most of us inadvertently hold in our ‘normal’ church life. (Some have called this Churchianity.) The idea is ‘get people to come to the church meeting.’ Then the magic can happen, the priest/minister/pastor can work their magic and BAM!
Your heathen friend / neighbour / co-worker / renegade family member will experience the miracle of radical conversion and become a fully committed member of the team engaged in rounding up further lost souls and persuading / cajoling / tricking people to attend a Sunday Service.
There are multiple problems with this approach.
1. Jesus never told us to do this! He said, “you are the salt of the earth…” (Matthew 5 : 13) Christians are the ‘salt’ and we are to go to the meat and season it! Jesus (opinionated as ever) also said “GO” and make disciples. (Mt 28 : 19 – 20)
2. Sunday meetings are primarily for Christians, not non-Christians! (We honour the Father, get taught by the Holy Spirit, sort out our junk, and hopefully become equipped to be disciple makers…and some extra cool bits thrown in, like be encouraged by, prayed for, be held accountable by other Christians who have our backs.)
However, there are a number of reasons why this (simplistic yet powerful) model of ‘church’ doesn’t happen. These include (but certainly would not be limited to.)
1. Many Christians are just trying to be obedient, and we are constantly told by well meaning leaders, ‘…bring someone to church’ and we’ve been so indoctrinated into this way of thinking, it feels almost heretical thinking otherwise.
2. We like to be lazy. At the end of the day, it much easier to simply say ‘…I asked him to come to church, but he said no…’ rather than do the hard yards of creative thinking and working out of your comfort zone in order to build a friendship with a work colleague over a period of 18 months. (Horror – you may need to take your children to the park with his children one weekend, or invite she and her husband for a meal…!)
3. It puts responsibility on Christians to be salty. ‘…if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.’ People listen to who we are before they listen to what they say. Some of us are not as salty as we might like to think we are, and ‘taste’ more like rancid tomato sauce than we do of salt.
We are NOT saying is that non-Christians should never be invited or attend a Sunday Service. Paul wrote ‘…if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!’ (1 Cor 14 : 24 – 25)
Further, many people can tell stories of how they became Christians by going to a church meeting and having an encounter with God. And when that happens it is amazing. (Apocryphal statistical evidence indicates this is the minority of people. Most people become Christians through friendship with a Christian who likes them a lot and enjoys spending time with them.)
The point however, is that the Western church needs to change it’s mentality from a ‘come to us’ mentality to a ‘go to them’ mentality. Stop trying to squish the meat into the salt shaker, and start taking the salt to the meat.