Making Hay While the Sun’s Out
Hello Church Family,
The month of December is flying by, isn’t it? I hope your holiday season is going well. I want you to know that I’ve been praying for you this week, that God would increase your joy in Him and give you peace amid the busyness of this time of year.
As you know, our mission as a church is to make disciples who make disciples. Put another way: we exist to glorify God by leading people into a growing relationship with Jesus. Certainly, there are many noble things we want to do (and are doing) as a church, such as feeding the poor, helping the homeless, assisting abortion-vulnerable women, rescuing abused children, and partnering with others to obliterate cancer—and these are all excellent endeavors—but none represents our ultimate priority.
Michael Horton, in his book The Great Commission, says: “There is no mandate for the church to develop a political, social, economic or cultural plan. … The church’s mission is not even to reform the morals of society. Whatever effects the gospel has in the lives of its hearers and in the wider society in which it is heard, the Great Commission itself is a very specific mandate to get the Good News to everyone who lies in darkness.”
But how do we go about spreading the Good News?
There are two main approaches to making disciples that churches seem to employ: attractional or missional. Churches that embrace the former tend to focus most of their attention on attracting unbelievers to church (hence the approach’s name). So they invest their energy into direct mailings, big events, slickly-produced worship sets, and services designed for the non-Christian.
“On the other hand,” says Brad Brisco, “missional churches see their primary function as one of actively moving into a community to embody and enflesh the word, deed, and life of Jesus into every nook and cranny.” One person has described the two mindsets as “come and see” (attractional) versus “go and be” (missional).
While I’m not a big fan of labeling, it’s fair to say that we are a missional church. We believe that the essence of biblical evangelism is not inviting people to church, but going to where unbelievers “happen to be” (Acts 17) and engaging their hearts and minds in loving and gospel-rich dialogue and action. This was the model of the disciples, the Apostle Paul, and even Jesus. After all, Jesus’ entrance to this earth as a helpless baby was the most missional act in history. He didn’t require the lost to come to Him; He came to us. I love the way author and scholar, Eugene Peterson, paraphrases John 1:14 in The Message: he says, “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.” Consequently, with Christ as our example, at Northpoint we gather to encourage, equip, instruct, build up and pray for one another and then scatter to serve, love and reach a dying world with incarnational grace.
Nevertheless, there are certain times of the year when inviting someone to a service is particularly effective. And we are in one of those seasons. For various reasons, people who would normally avoid the church at all costs, are willing (and sometimes even eager) to join in the celebration of Christmas.
That neighbor who casts incredulous glances at you when you go to church every Sunday may just be looking for a place to sing carols by candlelight this Christmas. That co-worker who already feels the weight of being separated from God may just be secretly longing for you to invite her to the Christmas Eve service. That adult child of yours who has rejected every overture in the past to talk about spiritual things may just be waiting for you to say, “Would you come to church with me this Sunday?”
So why not take advantage? Why not strike while the proverbial iron is hot? In the Resource Folder this Sunday will be Invite Cards. They represent an easy way to tell someone about our upcoming holiday schedule. Please pray that God would give you the courage and grace to extend an invitation to one (or several) of our services.
Let’s take advantage of a time when people in the dark are willing to investigate the “true light” (John 1:9), through whom “the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.” (John 1:10)
Who knows what God may do!