You hear a lot about church growth these days.
There are slick marketing campaigns you can use. You can target a particular neighborhood, a certain demographic, or a desired economic status.
You can tell them that your church is the answer to all their most pressing problems like how to raise their kids, budget their money, and vote for the right political candidates.
You can showcase the fact that your pastor is a better speaker than Zig Ziglar and your youth program is more fun than a trip to Disney World.
Don’t get me wrong. Growth from the outside is good. But is advertising like that really a good use of the money your people have invested in ministry?
The best and most meaningful growth comes when you and I invite the people we know.
Of course, you give up any demographic intentions when people start inviting their friends, classmates, and coworkers.
These people might know Jesus or they might not. Jesus might have been part of Bible stories at home during their childhood or He may have been named aloud when their parents were arguing with each other.
The person you invite might be a Pharisee or a drunkard.
Whatever the case, the Gospel has something for him or her.
Of course, though we agree everyone needs Jesus, we get nervous when other messy people come into our midst. What if they aren’t Five Point Calvinists? Or what if they are?
How do we deal with that?
The same way Jesus did.
Jesus isn’t threatened by messiness. If we’re honest with ourselves, we will have to admit we’re messy too. We can and do struggle with self-righteousness as much as any pagan – or believer.
If we will grasp the truth that Jesus’ blood really does cover a multitude of sins, then we’ll learn to love all kinds of people into God’s kingdom.
And we might just remember that God loves us a lot too.