There’s a pervasive erroneous practice that has permeated the church for far too long. Well meaning Christians, when they want to introduce a friend or family member to Christ begin to invite their unsaved friends and family to their local church. There’s a problem with that, the main being that Bible speaks specifically against it.
The Bible speaks of the mission of the Christian is to “Go (emphasis mine) and teach all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). The church is missional, meaning that we should be going out and reaching the world where they’re at, not telling them to come where we’re at. It is the mission of evangelism and spreading the Truth of the gospel. It is not something the Lord left us to do and then didn’t give us the capacity to do it. Quite the contrary, the Holy Spirit gives us the power to live holy lives and to know the mind of Christ which we can relay to others.
This means that the preaching of the Word must be in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2). However, the church has fallen into a lazy, politically correct attitude which is embodied in a famous quote from Saint Augustine that says, “Preach the gospel and if necessary use words.” Problem with that mindset is that it’s not scriptural.
This is not to cast aspersions on Augustine who I have great respect. But like him, I’m a saint, and quite frankly, he got it wrong here. To be fair, he was advocating living holy since so many want to talk about the scriptures but ignore what they say. Nevertheless, the sentiment is presented as if there’s an either/or and there isn’t. Christians are called to do both.
The Bible says, “How will the hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14)” When the Lord said, “As you go, preach, saying (emphasis mine), the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 10:7)”, He wasn’t talking about putting on a show for people. He was talking about speaking. That is our mission. Preach the true gospel. Live lives that glorify God.
To this extent, wherever the Lord has us, we should give the gospel to those who are unsaved. Work, grocery store, visiting relatives, Bible studies, Facebook (go figure, huh?). These are just some of the places we may encounter people regularly who are not saved. We should pray and foster relationships and explain the gospel to them.
However, the one thing we should NOT do is invite them to church. Why? Real simple. It’s not the place for them. They have no business there. It’s for saved folks. Saints. Christians.
Therefore the wicked shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. (Psalm 1:5)
The church is not a building. It’s the local assembly of the saints. It’s the body of believers, key word being believers. The sanctuary where God dwells is in the hearts, minds, and souls of His people. Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them (Matthew 18:20). The building is just a building. However, when saints get together, there are things that they do that non-believers have no part of whatsoever. I’ll cover that in Part II.