What’s an Empty Pew Got to do with You?
As the praise and worship songs began, I took a look around my church last Sunday morning. I was intentionally looking for new faces in the crowd that I had not seen before.
Since I know firsthand the anxiety that being new to a church brings, I make it a point to connect with visitors. Because I am a ‘hugger’ by nature, I tend to bypass the formal introductory handshake for an embrace in hopes that my friendliness is received and reciprocated.
As I considered my attempt to make others feel welcomed, it occurred to me that I wasn’t welcoming those that I, myself, had personally invited. I also noted that I hadn’t invited anyone in a very long time.
The second time I glanced around the sanctuary, the hollow, unoccupied seats glared at me. The newly upholstered chair backs looked sad and disappointed. The vacant seats in the sanctuary blatantly exposed me. They loudly proclaimed my lack of evangelism the previous week. They showed that I was silent in my faith.
Are there any empty seats in your church or fellowship, Team?
Even if your church is packed to capacity, ask yourself: How many people have I personally impacted this week?
If you’re like me, maybe you’ve told yourself that you’re not prepared. You feel like you don’t know enough scriptures. Could it be that you’re afraid that you won’t be able to answer a difficult question?
Maybe you don’t want to look bad. Or, could it be that you simply don’t know the right words to say?
The responsibility of sharing Christ has requirements and risks. In order to fulfill Jesus’ play call in Mark 16:15 – go into all the world – we must commit to the demands and sufficiently prepare ourselves for opportunities to share Christ.
Submission is living your life under the will of God. It involves forcefully putting your will under something outside of yourself. It requires that you deliberately do the opposite of what you would naturally do.
Our boldness and courage to witness is diminished by our lack of submission to God. Because we’ve submitted to our own will and complacency for so long, we find it difficult to act outside of ourselves. As we submit ourselves to God (James 4:7), He gives us the ability and power to obey His commands.
This requirement involves giving up your convenience for the sake of someone else. Come on, Teammates, Jesus did it for us!
While I am not suggesting that you literally give your life for others, I am saying that it requires that you be willing to give of yourself, especially in instances when you don’t feel like it.
In order to share Christ, you may have to take some time out of your day. You may experience a minor inconvenience. On occasion, the person may need a bit more support than you originally expected. Be willing to go the distance for the cause of Christ.
Seeking people out
This duty obligates us to step beyond our comfort zones and places of isolation. In times when we’d like to sit back and let somebody else take the lead, God is expecting us to be the ones to reach out.
This is not accomplished through our own strength, but with His lovingkindness. It is the love of Christ, in action and on display in a tangible, practical way that will draw people. Look for opportunities to reach out to people where they are and share the lovingkindness of God (Jeremiah 31:3).
Stepping up to share your faith has risks, but that should not deter us from doing what God has called us to do.
Uncomfortable risks are definite possibilities, but the blessings of honoring God are a sure thing.
Rejection, Ridicule, and Refusal to Hear
There is the reality that the message of Christ may be tossed aside. No one likes to be discarded, however, this rejection should not be taken personally.
As representatives of Christ, we are simply the messengers. We are the vessels used to deliver His word. The rejection that we may experience should be the fuel to continue on.
Jesus says in Matthew 10:14 that we should shake the dust from our feet and move on if people don’t welcome or receive our words.
Just as some rejected Jesus and His message, they will also reject us. Accept it and move on!
Matthew 5:11-12 says that we are blessed when we are insulted because of the name of Christ. It encourages us to rejoice because a great reward is ahead of us.
Until each of us take the words of Jesus in Mark 16:15 both personally and literally, there will always be empty seats in our assemblies across this country and around the world.
So, what’s the play call?
If you don’t know what you’re called to do as a believer and are wondering about your purpose, look at what Jesus says.
Jesus gives directives for action. He spells out for us where to go and exactly what to do. He even tells us who our audience should be:
The word go is an action to move or proceed. It means to leave from a place or to depart. This means we will have to move beyond the comfort of the walls of our local assemblies.
INTO ALL THE WORLD
This means literally everywhere!
To proclaim or to make known.
The good news of Jesus Christ.
TO EVERY CREATURE
That pretty much sums up the entire human race!
An empty seat in your church is a sign of us being partial in our Christianity. We are reaping all the benefits of a relationship with God, but not carrying out the duty of sharing Him with the world.
Can I be bold in declaring that we are not full-bodied followers of Christ until God’s house is full.
Let’s face it, Team, it’s not enough that only you and I have salvation.
It’s insufficient that only a select few people are delivered and healed when Jesus’ blood paid the price for all sin. The invitation is part of the anointing. Jesus made the supreme invitation to us, but the gospel is not for us to keep to ourselves. Stop being a Jesus hoarder!
The responsibility of sharing Christ also has its rewards! Stay tuned for the next article where we will reveal the hidden rewards of sharing your faith and the mighty reinforcement that you may not even know that you have!
What will you do about the empty seats in your church this week?