Friday, February 24, 2012

Should Non-Christians Come to Church?

I love to write. I write blogs. I write articles for several different websites. I write sermons. I write a newsletter for my employer. I write books. It is a hobby, and occasionally a way to supplement my ministry income. I have just finished writing a book entitled "Mission Possible: Reaching the Next Generation through the Small Church." The subject matter of the book is obvious from the title.
But this post is not to promote the book, it is to talk about an interesting discussion I have had with one of the people who worked on some of the promotional materials for the book. In many of the promotional items he kept inserting words and phrases that made it sound like I only wanted young adults who were already Christians to come to church. I kept making changes to his copy to make it clear that both Christian and non-Christian young adults should be welcome at church. He seemed to struggle with this idea. His main question was "Why would a church want to attract a large crowd of non-Christian young adults?" I had trouble getting the concept of the Great Commission or John 3:16 or evangelism or the need to rescue sinners from an eternity in hell across to him. I am not sure he ever really understood, but he did finally stop trying to word the material in a way that sounded like only Christians could participate in the life of the church.

My many emails and phone calls with him made me wonder how many Christians think the same way as my book promoter. Perhaps that is why evangelical churches across the nation are shrinking. Has the evangelical church become a social club where only certain people are welcome? Perhaps. But that is not the church that Jesus founded 2000 years ago. Jesus founded a church that said "Come unto Me all you who are weary and heavily burdened and I will give you rest." The church that Jesus founded believed that "Whosoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." I like the church that Jesus founded. I am not so sure about the one my book promoter attends. This is something to think about as we ponder God's future for whatever church we are a part of.


  1. "Has the evangelical church become a social club where only certain people are welcome?"

    I think this is accurate, at least in the way many non-Christians I talk to view most churches. This is an issue I dealt within the 4 churches, across many different denominations, I ministered in. Obviously training and edifying current believers is vitally important but it is only half the battle. Evangelism is the important and often forgotten other half.

    Too many Christians view evangelism as something that is done outside of church at youth camps/retreats or Christian concerts or is simply leaving a track on a public sidewalk. This leads to ignoring the important aspect of just inviting people to church to discuss Christianity. I am convince of more churches offered "public" meetings in their church to discuss Christianity and its role in society, many negative perceptions would be assuaged.

    For anyone, besides Terry, reading this response, I am a former Christian(which you most likely will regard as an oxymoron lol)so my observation of Christian evangelism comes from two polar opposite perspectives.

  2. Thanks Josh, you know I always like your interactions. (Well, almost always like, LOL)

  3. Good comments, Terry. I wonder if some believers are made uneasy by non-Christians in church because it makes the experience more "messy" & less under their control.

  4. Hmm, any non-Christian who became a Christian probably came to some church somewhere to hear and consider the Word before they were truly saved so thank God that they do come to church :):)

  5. I like this.

  6. Good point Joel, I suspect you are right.
    Shannon, yep, every Christian used to be a non-Christian so if we don't let non-Christians come to church, the church won't be around much longer.

  7. Didn't Jesus realize that He wasn't suppposed to hang around all those sinners? didn't he know he was to keep himself away from all those "unclean" pagans, and risk contaminating himself, and possibly be lead down a dark path? And that woman he hung around with, Mary Magdelene, what was He thinking?

    Well the modern day Church fixed all those mistakes and we sanctified ourselves, we now have christian TV, Christian Radio, Christian Schools, Christian internet, christian alternatives to everything, so now we can live our whole lives without ever coming in contact with the kind of people that Jesus hung out with.

  8. Good post.

    "Redemption & Lift" (living a better life after salvation) is a normal progression after salvation. Ex. as we become more like Christ we stop doing some things that didn't honor Christ. As a by product we begin to separate ourselves from those who want nothing to do with Christ. We then find solace in a healthy church where others are feeling the same disconnect and distain from the things of this world. ...that seems to promote the "holy huddle" syndrome. (separation from nonChristians) Maybe the only way to combat that is for believers to have a genuine walk with Him, and to love others "as we do ourselves". That may be the way to be "in this world but not of it.".
    But as far as making a church welcoming for non-believers we should be VERY friendly toward guest and we should explain everything we're doing and why we're doing it. Also, we should probably use common language instead of "christianese".

    (...sorry so long)

    Just some thoughts...

  9. Dave,
    I think Jesus missed the memo about all that. Guess the evangelism committee never told Him how to do it right. LOL.


  10. Austin,
    Whyest doesn'test thou likest Christenessest? Areest youest notest spiritualeth enougheth?

    (Sorry, my King James English is a bit rusty.)


  11. Am here in india. Never been to a house church service here (think 30-50 adults - they pack them in) where there was less than 35% non-Christians. They are checking out if Jesus is real and Christians are authentic. But they are doing it with an open mind not as cynics. One time 85% were not believers. A healing had just happened. Soon a whole new church was started. I can't imagine public services where there are NOT people who come and have no idea what is happening. These seekers are the BEST!

  12. "Has the evangelical church become a social club where only certain people are welcome?"

    sadly, yes. i think so...

    even to the point where fellow followers of christ don't want to go anymore. I love Christ. And i *do* love my fellow christians, but i've been without a churchly home since i moved, because i never felt actually welcomed to the ones i visited....

    I *miss* going to church, but finding a church family shouldn't make someone feel so unloved....

    1. I am so sorry you have been treated this way. Praying you are able to find a church. Don't give up, keep looking.

  13. When my parents tell me of the time they became Christians, they always include that years later, when they were members and leaders in the church, the pastor of the church holding the "revival meeting" confessed to them that he nearly kicked them out the first night. You see, they were a group of "dirty hippies" with long hair and short skirts, and likely reeking of pot. But one couple went, and saw something that started to change them, and they brought their friends, and they were all changed. I am always grateful to the pastor who didn't act on his instincts.