A year ago, I posted this question to the EvangelismCoach.org Facebook page.
“Should we invite unsaved friends to church?” Give a Yes or No, and then give a reason.
The answers were pretty divided between Yes and No, with some strong opinions:
- Yes, the church is on an evangelistic mission.
- No, the church is for believers only to train believers to go into the world, get them saved, and then bring them in.
It’s not my point here to drift into a full theology of the nature of the church, but to focus on the vocabulary of the question: what do I mean when I use the word church in this question?
I mean the gathered assembly, whether it meets in a high school gym, music hall, or a beautiful church building with stain glass windows and movable chairs.
I worked through the book of Acts to see if I could draw principles about the early gatherings of Christians before the church was more organized.
Should unbelievers be invited to attend our church?
Since many of you are new subscribers to our weekly newsletter, you may not know these exist in the archives. Dig around and check out the evidence yourself.
- Are Unbeliever Present at Assemblies in Acts? — Part 1
- Are Unbeliever Present at Assemblies in Acts? – Part 2
- Are Unbelievers Present in the Assemblies in Acts? Part 3
- Are Unbelievers Present in the Early Church – Part 4
- Summary: Should we invite non believers to church?
I’m in the Yes camp.
I invite my unsaved friends.
I’ve been inviting my unsaved friends to church for so long that it is part of my teaching. I teach on
- how to invite people to church,
- how to pray for more church invitations
- How to host an Invite a Friend or Pack A Pew Campaign, sometimes called Operation Andrew.
Many of our church hospitality practices are based on the assumption that unsaved persons will be in our church, no matter how that visitor got there. I’ve never questioned it.
I know many people who came to Christ because a friend invited them to church. Here is one story. After a few weeks of hearing the preaching of the word, my friend surrendered his life to Christ. It is possible that without that invitation, he may have remained lost. It is possible that God could have brought him salvation by some other method. My friend was invited to church and came to faith in Christ.
If the church is responsible for evangelism, then it seems that some of it’s meetings will be intentionally evangelistic.
It also seems to me that the church would teach and train church members for evangelism where they live.
The Corinthian Church
We see Paul’s concern for the unbeliever in the midst of the assembly.
First Corinthians 14:23 Paul wants the assembly of the church to be sensitive to the unbeliever in their midst:
Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers. So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?
But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!” – 1 Corinthians 14:22-25
Paul assumes that there exists a possibility of unbelievers in the midst of the assembly.
There is no indication of how that unbeliever got there, nor is that the point of text.
But what is clear is a concern for the visitor. That reflects a strong ethic that should reflect in your church hospitality practices.
Start the discussion:
Answer this question in the comments below.
For what reasons should we invite the unsaved to our church?
Paul A Dion
NO. If they are not saved, there is nothing that you can do about it.
If they are not saved, there is nothing that they can do about it.
Because you are already saved, why would you care?
I read an implication in your comment to be that evangelism is a pointless effort. I think even the Apostle Paul would disagree with that. He writes:
I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. – 1 Cor 9.23.
It seems to me that Paul thinks he could meaningfully share his faith and actually cooperate with the Holy Spirit in persuading people to receive the grace he found.
If I can not impact their journey towards Christ, then why bother witnessing at all? Why bother inviting them to even hear a message about the gospel?
I care about their separation from Christ. I care that they don’t know the amazing love of God that I have found in Christ.
7316 NE 134th Circle
Of course invite the unbeliever to church. We all were unbelievers saved by the Blood of Jesus. Invite them to hear the Word, and live so they can see the Word, in our daily living, and that Word is Jesus. (John 1:1, 3:16)
4541Nw 24th street
Yes, Jesus clearly defined the mission of the church, when HE said, He came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. He searched for the lost sheep and bring him back to the fold.
Of course those who are not believers should be invited. To me, it is not a questions of whether they should be invited or not. The question for me is to ask ourselves, “Do we EXPECT unbelievers/non-converted to come to the worship service?” If the congregation is not anticipating persons who do not know Jesus personally to be present, then the worship service is going to be counter-productive because the format/service/interactions are not going to be all-inclusive. If the congregation is or has been “seeker-sensitive” then there will be an expectation for non-believers and many persons will be alerted to the possibility of newcomers/non-believers being present and will engage them. The focus for me is not about the new person(s) coming through the doors; but, rather, that the persons who have been part of the church for any length of time are EXPECTING them!