Every year during the Lent and Easter seasons, God gives us a unique opportunity to share Jesus. Unlike Christmas where we have favorable conditions to evangelize to nonbelievers, Easter is perhaps a greater opportunity to reclaim those who are on the margins of their Christian life.
Following Easter, I often hear folks bemoaning the fact that “you know who showed up for their annual appearance at church today.” On one hand I understand where this frustration comes from. Many of us are here week in and week out trying to practice our faith in worship and it is easy to have a negative perspective on the spiritual lives of those who don’t do so. It is tempting to think of ourselves as those who are more righteous or committed to our faith.
Unfortunately, it is not our place to judge, even though we would like to do so. Over the past few years, we have worked to become a congregation that seeks to share Christ with those outside of the Christian community. We have opened our hearts to the needs of those who haven’t yet formed a relationship with the God we know as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This Easter, I would like to ask us to widen our view of things by looking closer to home. Many of us have friends, neighbors and family members who are Christian. Yet we know that they don’t have a vital and dynamic relationship with Jesus through the community of faith.
Again, we aren’t here to judge a person’s commitment to Christ. The Triune God can be active in peoples’ lives who are marginally active in a Church. Of course, we know that it is in the Christian community that we are more likely to find the Spiritual support of brothers and sisters in Christ. I believe that most folks in our weekly worship services and our other ministries do so because they find the intrinsic spiritual value. I am amazed by how often people affirm their need for the community of faith following and absence from it. “Something was missing in my week, since I missed worship” is a common feeling that is expressed by those who have found the community of faith to be critical in their lives.
This year I want to ask you to consider a different area of evangelism. I hope that you will continue to invite nonbelievers to worship on Easter. I would also like to ask you to turn your heart towards what might be called “reclamation evangelism”. We all have people in our lives who know Christ, but their relationship with Him and his Church is not as strong and life-giving as it could be. There are many reasons for this and many of them rest on the church, not the individual. People have been hurt by the church. They may have found the community of faith to be cold and judgmental. Part of our calling is to work in positive ways to reconnect these folks to the Body of Christ.
With that said I would like to ask you to do the following things over the next few weeks leading up to our celebration of Easter:
- Pray that God will open your heart to Christian brothers and sisters who are absent from Church community (I don’t just mean Christ Presbyterian but the Church universal);
- Ask God for the spiritual strength to invite your neighbors, friends and family to worship on Easter;
- Pray that God will help to open the hearts of those who attend our Easter worship so that they might see all of the good things God is doing in our midst.
I’m not asking you to sheep steal or take members from another congregation. What I am asking you do is to extend Christ’s invitation to people who know who Christ is. Ask them to come and experience the hope of Easter with us and to see how God is unfolding the Easter blessings in our congregational life throughout the year.