Who Should We Invite To Church?

'Cloud cover coming in, drizzle, view of the sound, Discovery Park, Seattle, Washington, USA' photo (c) 2012, Wonderlane - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Today is an important day, because for the first time there’s an evening worship service in Fremont, CA. It’s a great day because we’re praying it’s the start of God’s movement among this city and a spiritual awakening in this tri-city area.

Earlier this week during Resonate Church‘s 5:30 service worship band practice, Scott our worship leader shared with us this passage, and it has stayed with me all week:

“And now arise, O LORD God, and go to your resting place,
you and the ark of your might.
Let your priests, O LORD God, be clothed with salvation,
and let your saints rejoice in your goodness.
O LORD God, do not turn away the face of your anointed one!
Remember your steadfast love for David your servant.”
As soon as Solomon finished his prayer,
fire came down from heaven
and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices,
and the glory of the LORD filled the temple.
And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD,
because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house.

(2 Chronicles 6:41-7:2 ESV)

It was the scene of the temple dedication led by King Solomon, and it was a great sight because there were tons of people, animals, and festivities all around. What a sight and sound it must have been to be there. But it would have been merely a cacophony of sights and sounds if not for 2 Chronicles 7:1-2, if God had not shown up, sending down his fire from heaven and filling the temple with his glory. God knows how to make a celebration into a real celebration.

A couple months ago I shared with a friend (who’s also a Christian leader) about what was happening at Resonate Church, that the church is only 2.5 years old and yet it’s got explosive numeric growth and it has touched many lives, my friend said, “Wow the senior pastor must be really smart!” I tried telling him, no, it’s because the singlar focus of this church is the gospel message and people were drawn to God. But my friend kept saying, again, “He must have been a smart pastor!” I wondered why he needed to again and again find a reason to attribute the credit to a human. I wanted to correct him. But later on I realized he was helping to counsel a church who’s going through tough times — they lost their senior pastor to retirement but then the associate pastors were “infighting” to get that “top job” and there was a lot of hurt in that church. It was sad to hear that and I pray for healing there.

It got me thinking though. We spend so much time trying to attract people to go to church. We have our gimmicks, we tout our children’s programs, we hype the “dynamic” and “practical” sermon message, and we say we’ll make you feel “comfortable” and your needs all met. What ends up happening is, whether we get the people to come or not, we forget about the one thing that’s most important — inviting God to come. So many times it seems we don’t care whether God is there or not as long as we make a big scene.

The other day I was re-reading some slides I made for a Sunday School class that I taught on the subject of “Understanding Church” and I was struck by this quote from Leonard Sweet:

Can the church stop its puny, hack dreams of trying to “make a difference in the world” and start dreaming God-sized dreams of making the world different?

— Leonard Sweet (“SoulTsunami”)

The only way the church can make the world different is to step aside and let God show up and do His thing. And we need to invite God to be there, and anticipate Him to be there, in our churches, in our homes, in our lives. And at the same time, we need to tune into what He wants to do in our city, in our homes, and join in.