How do you invite people to church? Try being honest. Tell the truth. Churches are filled with imperfect people trying to live into God’s love and grace and to proclaim it to a lost and dying world. Churches are filled with people who have been delivered from sin, addictions, pain, and hopelessness. In other words, healthy churches are filled with ordinary people.
How do you invite people to church? A friend of mine invites people to church with one condition: “If you’re perfect, this isn’t the place for you, because we are a bunch of messed up people.”
Most people really appreciate that honesty. We Christians, if we aren’t careful about it, can give off an air of self-righteousness. But the church was never meant to be a sanctuary for the self-righteous. The church is a hospital for sinners, a refuge for the broken, and a shelter for the oppressed and outcast.
Churches are not perfect. In fact, until Christ comes to take his bride at the New Creation, there is no hope for a perfect church.
But, if a church is fulfilling her mission, a church will be a perfect place for imperfect people.
I’m pretty sure that statement isn’t original to me, but I don’t remember ever reading it. It came to me in the middle of a sermon a few weeks ago and it really captures exactly what we as the church are called to be. A safe harbor in the storms.
Jesus found the hurting, the outcast, and the sick and he brought them into his family. In fact, when he saw the hurting and the weighted down, he urged them,
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest – Matthew 11:28
Jesus didn’t cry out to all who are wealthy and healthy. He didn’t reach out to the powerful and political. No, Jesus spoke to those who “labor and are heavy laden.”