An Invitation to Come to Church
An Invitation to Come to Church
And what that actually entails
Have you ever resisted the invitations of a friend or family member to come and visit church? I have some old memories back in high school of my sister (a Christian) whose friends would come over and try and talk to me, and sometimes even invite me to come to church. Now they were never going to get past my antisocialism, but the other thing they may not have realized was that I had no idea what coming to church actually entailed. My sister and her friends would often be at church or out doing church-y things, but “going to church” was always something of a black box for me. So I hope that giving this explanation will be helpful for anybody who, like me growing up, doesn’t know what “going to church” actually entails.
Okay, so what actually happens at church? At Sovereign Grace Fellowship, we gather every Sunday morning at 10am in Redondo Beach at the South Bay Adult School. We are a relatively small church of about 35 people. The primary purpose of our gathering is to worship God ("worship" here meaning to express feelings of love and adoration for God). After an opening prayer, our Pastor invites the congregation to worship (commonly called a "call to worship"). We begin by singing songs of praise to God, led by a musical worship team. We do 2 songs, followed by a reading from the Bible, and then 3 more songs. After this there are a few brief announcements before the main event, a 45-50 minute sermon. During the sermon, Pastor Joe (or occasionally someone else) opens to a passage of the Bible and preaches the sermon he has spent the week preparing to the congregation. His job is to explain what is taught in the Scriptures and to deliver that message to the congregation. As he teaches and preaches, he is in effect declaring what God declares to the church, insofar as he is faithful to what the Bible teaches. We end with one final worship song and a closing prayer, and then we have snacks and refreshments and a time to chat with one another.
If we were to outline this for a program, it might look something like this:
10am - Call to Worship and opening songs
10:15 - Scripture Reading and worship songs
10:30 - Announcements
10:35 - Sermon - What Must I Do to Be Saved - Acts 16:25-34
11:30 - Closing song and prayer
11:45 - Snacks and Refreshments
Okay, so now having given that explanation, I can imagine that someone might still ask, “Wait why do you do this?” So once again, the primary purpose of our gathering is to worship God. And it’s impossible to understand why we worship God, by doing all of the things listed above, without understanding this thing we call the gospel. The gospel means “good news”, and it can be summed up like this, “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.” (1 Tim. 1:15). We gather as a church, not made up of a bunch of people who think that they’re righteous and holy, but as those who acknowledge that we are not and have thus come to Jesus for salvation. And in response to this good news, we worship. There’s so much more to be said about this, and I’m leaving a bunch of questions unanswered (What does it mean to be a sinner? Saved from what? Who is Jesus Christ?), but that’s enough for now.
So hopefully the next time someone invites you to come to church that statement has a little bit more meaning behind it and isn’t just a mysterious black box, like it used to be for me. Maybe some of you reading this may even give visiting church a shot. But realize that really this invitation to come to church is more than just an invite to come and experience our religion, but to come and meet our God.
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