Here’s an important question:
What if the members of our Churches started sharing their faith, but it wasn’t in a way that brought more people to our specific Church? Would we celebrate and encourage that? If not, then perhaps we are not as committed to kingdom growth as we think we are.
As people use social media to make new relationships and keep in touch with friends who have moved away, more aspects of our lives are happening without regard to geography. From crying with a friend going through a divorce, to celebrating the joy of childbirth, many of our most intimate moments are being lived through Facebook Live, Skype, Zoom and FaceTime.
More people who share their faith are doing it online, too. Which means that the friends and family members they’re sharing it with are becoming less likely to be able to attend Church together.
This has great potential for our Church’s participation in kingdom growth, even if it doesn’t always result in the numerical growth in our local congregation.
In the western Church world, we have become so used to tethering evangelism to our Church’s programming and attendance that we can forget they’re not the same thing.
What if the following conversation was a normal event in our Churches.
“Hey pastor, thanks for encouraging me to share my faith! I actually led someone to Jesus this week!”
“That’s so great! Will they be coming to Church with you on Sunday?”
“No. They live in another town.” Or even, “no, they used to attend a Church down the street and they’ll be going back there this Sunday.”
What if a Church was teaching and practicing evangelism in such a way that people shared their faith in Jesus at work, in their neighbourhoods, with their families and online, not necessarily as part of a Church program, but as a natural outgrowth of their faith?
We must always remember that, while Church attendance is a vital element in our spiritual growth, Church attendance isn’t the goal of evangelism. Following Jesus is the goal – even if it means they attend a different Church than ours.
Making disciples comes first. It’s great when a Church member invites an unchurched friend or family member to come to Church with them. Personal invitation is something our congregations need to do far more today. However, our primary goal must always be to lead people to Jesus – sometimes that will be via our congregation’s ministries – sometimes it won’t. We should rejoice either way!