Last fall, I wrote about my frustration over seekers not wanting to come to church events. I wondered what the problem was.
Six months later, the situation that prompted me to write the post has taken an interesting turn. One of the girls who had been promising to come to church (but didn't) asked to meet with me. And she told me about her journey over the past few months.
"I realized that church is something you have to make time for," she said. She had read a book I had given her from cover to cover. It was about what to do when you've become a Christian. She was seriously pondering some of the advice, such as reading the Bible and becoming a part of a church.
While meditating on these things, a man approached her one day in the metro and shared the Gospel. He told her that God had a special calling on her life, and prayed for her. Then she called me.
"Come to church tomorrow," I said, when we met. This time, she came.
But what she said about commitment was interesting. When I worry about people not coming to church, it's not that I think that my kind of church is best or even that it has to be Sunday. Arrangements can always be made for someone who has a difficult schedule.
My problem is that when a person says "yes" to Christianity but "no" to church, I question the level of sincerity. Oh, how many times I had a friend who was seeking, who promised to be at the bus stop on Sunday morning...and didn't come.
When a person says, "I'm okay just reading the Bible at home," I say "fine," because I know that if he/she is really going to read the Bible and seek God, then the Holy Spirit will convict that person of the need to become a part of the Body. But just sitting at home with the Bible on a shelf isn't going to do much good.
So, perhaps, part of the answer is that a person who isn't able to make the time commitment hasn't really had a change of heart yet. And the solution is to pray for his heart to be changed. Maybe the right time just hasn't arrived yet.
And one more thing. I mentioned God being able to work in a seeker's heart despite a church's imperfections. I still believe this is true, but with an added perspective: when a visitor sees some of the "human" moments: the instruments being out of tune, the latecomers arriving, a baby crying....he sees how we as a church handle these moments and relate to each other (hopefully) in love.
This doesn't answer all the questions. It is still difficult to find the right avenues for evangelism and the best way to welcome newcomers into a congregation. But it is a piece of the puzzle.