By Joy Gary
“What or who is the church?”
Before we get into the importance of inviting people to an encounter with God, it is imperative that we understand who the church is. The church is not a building, an organization, or a location. It’s a living organism, a body made up of the worldwide collective of God’s children. If you have received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then the church is you. No, not you alone, but are a member of this body of Christ. This good news of Jesus paying for your sin is the gospel and God intends for this news to be spread everywhere. So, when God created His way of spreading the message of His kingdom, He instead of calling the lost to the church (building), He sent His church (body/members) to the lost (Mark 16:15-19). Therefore, you are the church when you go out about your daily life (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). You are the minister and representative of the kingdom of God and Jesus where ever you go (2nd Corinthians 5:16-21).
“So if I am the church where do I go every Sunday?”
You go to the church house or church meeting house. Jesus called the church’s meeting place the house of prayer for all nations (Luke 19:46). This is where members of the body of Christ or church meet to get trained to do the work of the ministry and get edified (Ephesians 4:10-16). There they fellowship and encourage one another with testimonies because it’s a tool to overcome the enemy (Revelation 12:11), they share psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, and get updates on the collective mission of the body of Christ (Ephesians 5:14-21).
“Why is it important to invite people into an encounter with God?”
Let me propose to you, that if you a member of the body of Christ, EVERY encounter we have with people is an introduction to the church and kingdom of God. In the same way that an ambassador or a government official is a representative of its host country where ever they go, we, being ambassadors to the kingdom of God are God’s direct representatives to the world. This is why Jesus calls us the light of the world and why Paul informs us that Christ in you is the hope of glory. Paul also charges us to speak as the oracles of God because we are living letters (epistles) read by all (2 Corinthians 3:1-3). And people are reading your life, constantly. What is it saying? Can your co-workers recognize that you are a peculiar person? Can they see that you are a part of a holy nation? (1 Peter 2:9-10) Our lives should be so different, victorious, and desirable that when we get around people they should wonder and ask you why are you different. They should become curious about your relationship God.
We have our children sing “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.” But how are we, as young adults and adults, demonstrating that we are letting our light shine in our classrooms and workplaces? Your light is not meant to be hid (Matthew 5:14-16). Every live stream, zoom meeting, and digital conference, and here after every in-person interaction you have with is an invitation to encounter God. You are already informing people’s opinion of God. If that is the case, and it is, we must ask God how to partner with Him in our interactions with people so that He can directly move in their life.
God put the church on co-mission. We are on mission with Him and with each other. This is why Paul taught that some plant, some water but God gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:5-10). The watering or planting can manifest in a number of ways. God may ask you to invite someone to your church fellowship, or He may have you point them into the direction of another fellowship. He may have you pray for them, administer healing, deliver them for struggles, or He may simply have you be kind or share a scripture or buy a meal (Matthew 25:31-46). The method of watering and planting that God wants sown is His responsibility to determine. Just know He’s always sowing His word (Matthew 3:1-43) and that it is our responsibility and duty to keep our ear to His voice so that we know HOW He wants us to invite people into an encounter with Him. Jesus said that He did nothing of Himself but only did and said what He saw the Father do and say (John 5:19-20). We are charged with the same mandate, to not lean on our own understanding but in ALL of our ways acknowledge God and He will direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6). You’re already introducing to God with you actions, why not open up and overtly invited them into encounter with God?
Why is it important to invite people into an encounter with God?
The whole point of this life is to love and obey God (Ecclesiates 12:13-14). And the greatest joy we can have in our life is to know and encounter Him (Psalms 16:11). Every time we don’t introduce people to God in the way He asks, we are failing to introduce them to life. This is a life and death situation. If you see someone walking off of the edge of a building about to fall to their death, would you stop them? A continued life without Christ is walking to the edge and making strides closer to death. These invitations are your primary mission. It’s one of the reasons why you’re here on the earth. To be light and salt. The earth is literally groaning for the manifestation of the children of God (Romans 8:19-22).
How do I invite people into an encounter with God?
The first step is to offer yourself to God as a vessel for His use. Ask Him to show you who He want you to introduce to Him today. Ask Him how He wants you to introduce Him. And ask Him for the wisdom, knowledge, and words to speak. Know that this introduction is not always asking people to come to your church, but sometimes it can be. While that’s great, not everyone you meet is supposed to go to your church. In fact, most people you meet are commissioned assigned to another church fellowship. The invitation or introduction can be anything from asking if they want or need prayer, it could be sharing a sermon or scripture that comes to your heart, it could be sharing a meal or resource. What you share is up to God. Be willing to do what God is asking you to do in that moment.
How do I know if what I’m hearing is from God?
Firstly, stand on the promise and make the confession that “I know God’s voice”. Jesus said that His sheep knows His voice and another he will not follow. Secondly, ask God to confirm what He is saying to you. And thirdly, check the scripture. Anything God is telling you to do will be in scripture and will fall under the category of the “Great Commission” found in Mark 16:15-19. This details the mission Jesus gave to His disciples and us. This is what He wants us all to do. And, finally, Jesus came to bring life. Anything He asks you to do is going to bring life into the lives of those around you (John 10:10-11). If what you are hearing is going to cause confusion, death, discouragement, condemnation, or strife, know that this is not from God (1 Corinthians 14:33, James 3:16).
When can I start?
TODAY! Ask God to show you who He wants you to invite to church or to share a scripture or prayer with. Then ask for the boldness and words to do so. And take the leap and jump!