Right now things don’t seem to be going well for “the church.” According to Barna Group research, there are plenty of people who love Jesus but don’t love the church.
To be fair, the church hasn’t put its best foot forward. Big scandals make the news. Church leaders resign because of sexual misconduct allegations. It’s discovered that over the past 70 years, 300 priests in Pennsylvania abused more than 1,000 children—and the church covered it up. In some places, financial scandals mean that offerings meant for church and charity have been spent in other ways. And sometimes church leaders behave far more like Pharisees, making up rules and equating church traditions to the Bible’s teachings, leaving people hurt by the church.
For all that heaviness, there’s some good news. Even with all the sins and flaws of “the church,” people are still interested in Jesus and the Bible! According to another Barna report, “Two-thirds of Americans (66%) express at least some curiosity to know more about what the Bible says. . . . A similar number of adults (63%) are interested in knowing more about who Jesus Christ is.”
This means you have work to do—and I have work to do. After all, if people aren’t interested in church but they are interested in Jesus, how else will they hear if we don’t tell them? If people are interested in what the Bible has to say, then you have the opportunity to bring the Bible to them.
Hurting people who are skeptical of church are still wishing and—possibly—praying that someone would come into their lives to give them truth. So be the one to offer hope. Let people know that you are available as a resource, as a listening ear, and as an encouraging friend. Talk about Jesus in your regular conversations. Buy them a Bible and mark some good sections for them to read. Talk about the hope that you have.
Then, when the time is right, invite them to your church. Just because people aren’t currently attending church doesn’t mean they never will. Let them see for themselves how, even with some public problems, it really is a good thing when a group of believers worship together every Sunday.
Linda Buxa is a writer and editor who thinks Time of Grace is a great way to introduce people to Jesus and his Word. (That’s probably not a surprise.)
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