i recently received an email from a young lady who looks up to me (pray for her!). i’ve known her her entire life and she loves jesus flat out. having moved with her family to another state, they are currently “shopping for a church” (i hate that term). here is a portion of her note to me:
We went to a couple of different towns to check out some churches, but I am a little troubled at one common characteristic…there is no hymn of invitation at the end of the service. NO chance to receive Jesus.? Dad (he is part of my church fellowship) and I talked about this fact and he said that you do not do it every single service either. I am a little confused as to why churches are going in this direction. Is there a reason, is this a fad, is this biblical? I am wanting to really dive into the reasoning for this.
here is my response…
you have asked a great question and, i assure you, it is one i have struggled with long and hard. your dad told you the truth: i do not give an “invitation” at the end of every service. i can’t speak to the other churches you have visited, but mine is a decision based on much thought and prayer.
first of all, the idea that evangelism has fallen to the sunday meeting is repulsive to me. statistics say that most people get saved on sunday morning and that is just wrong. scripturally, the sunday meeting is for the edification/enrichment of believers who go out and win their neighbors to jesus who bring their new christian friends to the believer’s meeting. now, i still want people to get saved (if that’s why they came) so I will give an altar call if I feel led. i just do not want perpetuate bad practice, and I do not want to do a job for my people that they are supposed to be doing. if we did that for our kids, would they ever learn how to do it?
but i have a much bigger problem with the traditional “invitation.” my calling is to the lost people of my community. therefore, my life is given to reforming the thinking of a small group of people. they are “church people.” they do not understand people in society, and people in society do not understand them. the biggest problem is that they are “saved.” because they answered an altar call 20 years ago (or 50) they see no need to change. what was good 50 years ago is still good today. the fact is they might NOT be saved. but they signed a card or prayed a prayer or shook a preacher’s hand so they’re okay. that’s just wrong on so many levels.
let me ask you a question: what happens when someone responds to a “hymn of invitation.” i don’t mean physically…i mean in their mind and heart. i’ve answered a thousand altar calls (and i’ll bet you have too) and i never really changed. to be blunt, my dear child, i don’t give a rip about how many people respond to the invitation (and, frankly, that’s all some preachers care about…a few more notches on his gospel gunbelt). what i care about is lives being changed. i want people to think…to process what i said. whatever best facilitates that (worship, homework, corporate prayer, conversation, an invitation) is what i do at the end of my services. based, of course, on the leading of the holy spirit. my pews are full of people who “got saved” but look/act/walk nothing like jesus. did you know that the new testament church had a catechism (that lasted up to two years) and they wouldn’t baptize someone until they had demonstrated a thorough understanding of what it cost to be a follower of jesus? i would be a proponent of a program like that.
i hope i’ve answered your question. and I want you to know that you are completely free to disagree with me and I will still love you with all my heart. if you want to consider some of this stuff further, i blogged about it some time back. here’s the link:
stay in touch. i love you.
okay, enlightened readers, what do you think? have anything to add? jump in!