Sunday Morning Evangelism
Jerry and I had been friends for about a year before I finally got around to inviting him to church.
Over that time we had eaten together, bonded over Bond movies, and begun to talk about faith. He wasn’t a Christian; he was an atheist. In fact, his mother was a Communist Party member in China, and he re-read the communist manifesto every year—no joke.
Still, his atheism was unsatisfying, and he yearned for something greater. I suggested we read through the Gospel of John together to see who this Jesus guy was and what he said about himself. To my surprise, he agreed.
Over the next few months we read about Jesus turning water to wine, his claim to be the exclusive way to God the Father, and his death and resurrection. After every chapter, Jerry became more interested and he began asking more questions than I knew how to answer. I knew I should invite him to church, but I was too afraid.
“What if the pastor preaches too long?” I thought. “What if that dude with really sweaty palms tries to shake his hand? What if he comes and hears the gospel, but rejects it because I fail to live up to what I preach?”
After much prayer God gave me the courage to invite him, and again to my surprise, he said yes. And after the service ended I was mortified.
I couldn’t have chosen a worse week to invite him. The church I was attending at the time had just been through a nasty split; after we sang and prayed, the pastor forewent his usual sermon and spent 40 minutes offering a half-hearted apology for his divisive role and defending himself from the people who had left the church.
I knew it was over. Jerry had seen behind the curtain and would reject Christ because of all the Christians. At lunch, I was prepared to apologize and go crawl under a rock, but I thought I’d ask what he thought about the service first.
For the third time, he surprised me. He didn’t mention the sweaty guy and he didn’t even mention our inability to get along as Christians. He simply said to me “when we were singing hymns, I could feel the love of Jesus.” Within a few weeks, Jerry became a Christian and joined that same church.
What Does Sunday Morning Have to Do with Evangelism?
Sunday morning is the place where the Church gathers most regularly to worship and experience the Triune God. And yet, Paul shows us that he also expects non-Christians to be present in worship (1 Corinthians 14:16; 22-23). Commenting on this passage, Tim Keller writes that “God wants the world to overhear us worshiping him.” Evidently, our worship service should be a place where believers are bringing their unbelieving friends. But how does a church service help us reach our friends for Christ?
The goal of evangelism is not to induce someone into reciting a prayer before moving on to the next person. Rather, it is to invite our friends, family, and neighbors to abide in Christ as part of the body of Christ for the rest of this life and all of eternity. We are imploring them to become worshipers of the one, true God. Inviting our friends to church not only exposes them to the gospel, it also teaches them what to expect from life as a Christian: repentance, faith, and obedience. We are asking them to come and experience Jesus.
When we take a closer look at Sunday morning, we see that the same things that point believers to God also point non-Christians to God.
Congregational Singing and Prayer
My friend Jerry and many others before him found that hearing Christians sing praises to God was the most direct manifestation of God’s love to them, and helped them overcome whatever sort of objections they had to the faith. It’s no wonder Paul called the singing of praises to God “making melody to the Lord with your heart”
(Ephesians 5:19). It is in this part of the service that we show our devotion to and dependence upon God and thank him for all he has done.
Confession and Communion
When we confess our sins as a body, we are admitting to God and to the non-Christian that we constantly fail to live up to God’s standard. Even after conversion, we still struggle with the presence of indwelling sin. One need not fear—as I did—that they will see us as sinners, for that is exactly what we are. Similarly, when they see us take communion they see that we believe Christ has forgiven us of all our sins and that he gives us the grace to continue following him. That same forgiveness can be theirs through faith in Christ.
Preaching of the Word
Have you ever heard the pastor say something in a sermon and immediately wish your friend or coworker could have heard it? The pastors at Grace have all been trained to preach the gospel in such a way that it both encourages believers take their next step toward Christ and encourages unbelievers take their first step toward Christ. Plus, when the pastors know that you’re bringing non-Christians to church, they get even more excited about preaching the gospel to them.
Please, Try This at Home.
You know that person God has been placing on your heart to invite to church? Go ahead and pray for them and invite them to church. Then, wait to see what God does. If they come, take them to lunch afterward and ask for their thoughts or whether they have any questions about the service. You’ve just started a spiritual conversation.
This article was written by Grace Oviedo Intern Hunter Guthrie and was published in the Live Life Unstoppable issue of Grace Magazine.