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?
I had a similar experience with a pastor of a congregation my wife and I had attended. He set up a recording of himself calling people regarding schedule and other congregation issues. I told him in person that the technology lacked the personal touch which people are looking for and that it was a bad impression being given. At the least, put volunteers to work who are sitting in the pews waiting for something to do so they can feel like they are contributing more than just money to the group. But he felt that this was more practical and that the they had already spent the money for the phone system.
really!?! an autodialer? i hate those things. if i pick up the phone after someone rings me and it is a recording i get pretty steamed, as i am sure plenty of other people do as well.
i agree that entry into the body comes through people. even those who have grown up in the church have to feel like they belong with the people around them or they will not stay. they have to feel that someone will miss them if they are not there. i cannot tell you how many times i have heard, “i doubt anyone would care if i just stopped coming.”