One day during worship in my home church, a question came to me from God: “Where in the Bible does it say we will win the world by getting the world into the church?”
“But God,” I argued, “Getting people to come to church is the bedrock of all we’ve been doing in church all these years. We’re trying our best to offer great experiences that draw people into the church building so that they can hear the gospel and hopefully accept Jesus as Savior and Lord. This is what it’s all about, right? And furthermore, we will send missionaries to start churches in foreign lands so that our missionaries will win the world by getting those people into those churches. And we will start churches in our town across the tracks from us, so that their pastors will win them by getting those people into their churches. That’s the way it works in your kingdom, right God?”
But the question came again: “Where in the Bible does it say we will win the world by getting the world into the church?”
“Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Isaiah 6:6–7, NIV
Institutional churches are driven by a methodology called attractional worship. It begins with the mistaken notion that our primary strategy to win the world should be getting people into church. Attractional thinking drives the church to present the very best services, events, and activities to attract non-believers. But non-believers are not capable of worshiping God because they are spiritually dead. The Holy Spirit must bring them to life before they can worship the God of life. In contrast, biblical worship empowers Christians to fall deeply in love with God, submit to his transforming process as a disciple, and go on mission to their community.
God did not design worship to create spectators, nor to build the institutional church by keeping members happy, nor to win the world by attracting people into our churches. Worship in spirit and truth is focused on God alone and moves his children to grow up as disciples and go out as missionaries. Why?
God’s primary strategy to win the world is to get his church into the world, not the world into churches. MP