One time we were returning to the same area two years in a row and he was able to make those preaching arrangements ahead of time. We wanted to be sure we were on time so those poor brethren would not be frantic, but we had accidentally left the directions at home. So we asked the hotel desk clerk to Google the church website for the address and meeting times. When he did, all three of us were in for a surprise.
He gave us the address then said, “6429? I grew up at 6425 on the same street. I know where that church is. It’s two doors down from my dad.”
Yet he had not recognized the “name.” He did not know the service times, which were posted on the sign when we got there. He didn’t know they had a website, though a large banner hung outside the building. So much for the importance of “signs.” He was in his mid-20s, had grown up practically next door, and knew none of those things. Do you know why? Because he didn’t know the names of any who assembled in that building.
The building does not draw people.
The sign does not draw people.
The website does not draw people.
All those things are for people who are already looking, many of whom even know what they are looking for--like Christians traveling through on vacation. Since when is the mission of the church to make sure that traveling brethren can find us?
The gospel is what draws people, but as Paul asks in Romans 10:14, how shall they hear without a preacher? Since we no longer have miracles to “confirm the word,” the world has to know us and know our lives before they will listen.
It took me years to learn to talk about my wonderful brothers and sisters instead of just spouting scriptures or waiting for someone to ask me a Bible question. I have invited many to services and to Bible studies, but forgot to tell them that being with these people was half the reason for going and in the beginning, it might be their main reason for wanting to come back. And I forgot to tell them how much better my life was simply for allowing the Lord to lead my way. I was too busy making sure I had some scriptures memorized for appropriate occasions and waiting for those circumstances to somehow pop up on their own.
What does your meetinghouse mean to the neighborhood it sits in? Do they know anything about you? Even if all they think is, “Those people believe you have to follow the Bible exactly,” that’s better than nothing. It means they have had contact with a person, not just a sign or a building.
Don’t let your meetinghouse be nothing more than a landmark. The church is supposed to show people the way. “Go past the church and we are the second house on the right,” is not what the Lord had in mind.
From you has sounded forth the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith to God-ward is gone forth…1 Thes 1:8.
The righteous is a guide to his neighbor…Prov 12:26. Dene Ward