What do you say to someone who hasn’t come to church in a while?
“Nice to see you,” is one of the more traditional responses that is usually followed up with remarks about the person’s lack of church attendance, unless the phrase is spoken snarkily, which is almost all of the time.
I think the story of the Prodigal Son is important when assessing one’s in-church ‘hellos’ to those who haven’t been in church for a while. Ask yourself: Who would you rather be? The father who is excited that his son has returned home or the brother who isn’t thrilled that his brother is home?
If you choose the brother, then you’re the snarky one. You are the one who speaks with acid and anger on your tongue. “Oh, it’s great to see you! Your kids have grown since the last time you were here!”
If you choose the father, then you are what Your Lord wants – one who is happy that someone has come home. You’re the one who makes things comfortable for the returning friend. Smiles abound rather than snark. You will be the one who sends a card to the family saying how it was wonderful to be with them in worship. And you’ll tell them that you are praying for them.
The happy church follows the path laid out by the father. The broken church follows the path of the brother.
Grant us wisdom when we are confounded and give to us strength to walk in Your ways when we grow weary.
Today as I prayed the Wednesday morning prayer in the Portals of Prayer, the line above really hit me. The weariness factor of living the Christian faith is very real. Standing up for Christian ideals and beliefs in this world can be downright draining because there are so many people who reject the teachings of God.
It is so easy for bouts of exhaustion to wash over us and leave us with a sense of just giving up.
Jesus tells us something different:
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
The decline in evangelism in our churches comes down to just a few key issues. Too many believers see evangelism as the responsibility of someone else. Closely related to that issue is the matter of blame. It’s the pastor’s fault. It’s the church members’ fault. It’s the denomination’s fault.
I have seen churches make dramatic turnarounds when just one person decided to be radically obedient to the Great Commission.
Thom Rainer, June 5th – thomrainer.com
Read the entire article on Thom Rainer’s website here.