A few weeks ago I asked, “Where are the Doors to the Church?” There were several good points raised in the comments following, and I wanted to respond at the time… but time got the better of me. I wanted to resurrect the metaphor once more, as some of the comments had me thinking about it a little further.
As we describe it, the path that most people take into the “house” of faith is not a door per se, at least not one that people simply walk up to and fling open, as it were. People are led in, or let in through relationships. This is the way it should be, and the more I thought about the scenario, the more I came back to a passage in John 10:
Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
The path into the Kingdom has always been a person. This is worth remembering when we ask ourselves how people come to know the gospel and experience the community of faith… they must be introduced by one who knows them all, to be the connection.
There’s a church in my city that used an auto-dialer with a recorded message to invite people to church on Sunday. I don’t know how well it worked, but I do know that it sorely misses the point. What does it say when we’re busy trying to get people to have a “personal encounter” with Jesus while we’re unwilling to have a personal encounter with them ourselves?