Points to Ponder: Why Should Anyone Come to Your Church?

Points to Ponder
Why Should Anyone Come to Your Church?

The economic crisis, and the fearful foreboding of worse things which may lie ahead, have not motivated people to go to church. I heard that on the news recently and thought to myself: Of course not, why should it? That's not a rhetorical question. In these tough times of uncertainty, shrinking retirement accounts, and foreclosures, why would people come to (for the first time or resume attending) a church? The news report, from a Christian radio station, conveyed an assumption: crisis increases church attendance. But why should that be?
Those who are not accustomed to trusting God in the day-to-day course of their lives have familiar avenues and options to which they turn in tough times. Why would, "I need to go to church" come into their minds?
Of those who trust God, pray, and believe in His sovereignty over all things - yet do not attend a church - why would these believers change their habits and begin attending or return to attending a church?
This is not a point to ponder for the above mentioned unbelievers or the believers. It's a serious self-examination for the church; for your church as well as for mine. In trying to cope with tragedy or overwhelming circumstances, why should a struggling unbeliever come to your church? Why should a believer who has no church home come into yours? What would happen if they did?
In economic tough times, an unemployed person might think, "I can't afford to give to the offering plate." Our church prints a note to visitors in the bulletin, encouraging them to not give to the offering. Being there with us is a gift enough. Of course you have to come to our church to read it.
Then I thought about what other things might hinder a struggling person from coming to our church or your church. For unbelievers, they wouldn't be expecting much; maybe a motivational speech or good music. But, they could get that from TV or radio preachers at home.
For believers, they may not expect much either. If a church is led by people who don't believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God, then they won't preach or teach it with conviction. There will be a form of godliness functioning there, yet lacking any real power (II Tim. 3:5). Does your church have the Power? Do you have that Power yourself? (John 14:12-14).
As Paul admonished his son in the faith:
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of Power, and of love, and of a sound mind (or self control)" (II Timothy 1:7).
If the Bible is nothing more than a book of illustrations for the points the preacher wants to make, that is "denying its power."
Maybe something else hinders the needy soul from visiting your church. They envision being alone in a crowd. Most regular attenders would certainly recognize a stranger has come among them. Imagine what it feels like to be ignored by 30, 50, 75, or even 100 people who are in one room for an hour. Even the pastor didn't notice.
I've learned to not single out visitors and put them on the spot to introduce themselves before a group of strangers. The congregation should put themselves on the spot and initiate contact. Why? Maybe the Lord has moved that person to come to your church that day. Maybe to meet you. On the other hand, maybe few people visit your church because God will not afflict the already afflicted with a cold reception at a place, which bears His name.
When I had two newspaper routes in South Baltimore as a boy, I had four bars to serve. There was more warmth, hospitality, and joy in those places then some of the churches I have visited. Perhaps it was because people usually don't drink alone. There was fellowship.
With many Christians, their faith is personal. They attend their church alone even if they come with someone. Faith has somehow become all about me and what "I get out of it." Scripture gives a different perspective.
"And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Notice it's about considering one another, assembling together to stir up in each other love and good works; coming together to exhort (encourage) one another. Church fellowship is not for you, or about you, or for the sake of you and your needs. It's about the other. You don't look out for you. Everyone does.
In a time of crisis, isn't it good for a stranger to find there's a body of 50, 60, 100 (or more) who care about how he's doing? Or that she could walk into your church, full of doubts and hopelessness, and be embraced by a family of people who are of One Spirit?
As these times of fear and uncertainty continue, why would anyone come to your church? Or my church? Shall we prayerfully seek God's grace that He might make us become the answer?

Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship, of Clear Spring, MD. These articles are also found at www.HilltopChristianFellowship.com