One in five Americans hasn’t yet decided if they will attend church services this Easter. According to a recent survey, 41 percent say they are planning to attend, while 39 percent say they definitely will avoid church this Sunday. But 20 percent are undecided.
There are 314 million people living in the United States. Twenty percent is 62.8 million people. Many in this demographic are far less religious than most who will read today’s Cultural Commentary. It would seem obvious that we should invite them to church for Resurrection Sunday.
Here’s what works even better: bring someone with you.
In Matthew 9, Jesus and his disciples returned to Capernaum, where “some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed” (v. 2). They didn’t invite the man to come—they brought him. Of course, he was physically unable to come himself. If they had not carried him into the house, he could never have met Jesus there.
Most non-Christians are in the same condition spiritually as this man was physically. Some are so desperate that they will come of their own initiative or if they are invited, but most will not. Put yourself in their position. Imagine for a moment that a Jewish friend invited you to his synagogue for services this Saturday. You have no idea how the service works—where to park, where to sit, what to do. You’re worried that you’ll say or do the wrong thing, that you’ll embarrass yourself and be a distraction to others.
On the other hand, if your Jewish friend offered to pick you up and take you with him, things would be different. You’d have a guide for the day, someone to lead you through the experience. You might still be a bit tentative, but you’d be far more confident. And if this person was a close friend, you’d look forward to spending the day together.
When Andrew became a follower of Jesus, what did he do first? “He first found his brother Simon” and “brought him to Jesus” (John 1:41, 42). We seldom hear from Andrew in the New Testament, but Simon Peter changed the world.
If College Park Baptist Church in Houston, Texas had invited me to their church services in the summer of 1973, I would have declined. But they sent their bus for me, brought me to church, and returned me home. Their initiative was used by the Holy Spirit to lead me to Christ. My dear friend and mentor, Dr. Bailey Stone, had a similar experience. He had no relationship with Christ before he was brought to church; as a believer, he pastored some of the greatest churches in Baptist life and eventually led the evangelism division of the entire Texas Baptist Convention. I asked him to share his story with you, and hope you’ll read it today.
Would you ask the Lord to put someone on your heart for Easter Sunday? Would you ask them if you can bring them with you to church? Our culture desperately needs more Simon Peters. Your friend could change the world, to the glory of God.