Dec 23, 2014
Is it possible that church doors appear more closed than open?
We know our faith isn’t limited to what others might see when we gather in a dedicated place on Sunday mornings; it is lived out in our neighborhoods and our workplaces.
But, for the unfamiliar, crossing the threshold into a church building is a difficult step to take.
Will they welcome me? Will I feel comfortable with what goes on?
Realistically, churchgoers do not always make it easy for visitors to take that first step. Be it the clothes we wear, the songs we sing, the words we say, the "expectations" we reflect. Whether we know it or not, churches may very well be turning away honest seekers. (For a humorous look at this, see "What If Starbucks Marketed Like the Church.")
Think of it from the seeker’s point of view. How else will he or she find answers to questions about the Christian faith? How can a seeker find his or her way ultimately to faith in Christ?
It makes one wonder if we are genuinely representing the joy and responsibility of telling the world about the Good News of Christ’s work on earth. Sharing this spectacular news with others should be the natural overflow of a rich, vibrant life in Christ. Wouldn't you agree?
And where should that rich, vibrant life in Christ be most visible? Where it is most often seen—our neighborhoods and our workplaces.
Neighborhood Bible study groups can be a significant step in overcoming the challenges of taking the first step toward faith in Christ, not into a church building. In such groups, believers and seekers join together to read and comment upon their understanding of the passage. The casual and comfortable environs of a neighbor's home allows everyone to be at ease and focus on what the Word says. Through the discussion—and, of course, with the Holy Spirit in their midst—everyone has a clearer picture of what it means.
Here's what the Lord says about the impact of His Word: “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it" (Isaiah 55:11).
There are no “but my pastor said” interpretations; there are no “but in my church we believe” declarations. The focus is strictly on the Bible and what it says.
This is the kind of study a friend tells me he and his wife have begun, and they are already seeing some great opportunities for the Word to work in the hearts of their group. They say it all started this past summer as they walked around their neighborhood in the early evening hours. "One God-ordained conversation after another" led them to start asking those they met: “Would you want to join us for a ‘denomination-less’ Bible study?" Many of their neighbors responded that they would . . . and they have!
That sounds easy. Why is that? The Bible is deeply respected around the world. The “People of the Book,” as Christians and Jews are often described, are respected for living lives grounded in Scripture, and that grounding has yielded a quality of life rarely experienced in other faiths. They have seen that Christians truly love one another and have peace in their lives.
And, as others have experienced in their neighborhoods and in their workplaces, the study of God’s Word has opened doors—and hearts—to salvation and the truth of the Word.
What might happen in your neighborhood or in your workplace? What will it take for you to initiate this kind of witness of the Word? Won’t you resolve to ask God whom you might invite to join with you in discovering the power of the Word?
For more information about how you can “stay the course,” refer to The Wheel illustration on The Navigators’ website. The Witnessing Spoke: See Matthew 4:19; Romans 1:16. God has given Christians the joy and responsibility of telling the world about the Good News of Christ’s work on earth (Matthew 4:19). In fact, sharing this spectacular news with others should be the natural overflow of a rich, vibrant life in Christ (Romans 1:16).