Yesterday about 10 members of our church family went out into the neighborhood around the church building to hand out New Testaments, share the gospel, and get to know people. We went "knocking on doors," as some like to call it. I always find this exciting because I have no idea what the Lord has planned when we do this. I cling to Acts 1:8.
In talking with folks, we are reminded again and again that we live in the Bible Belt (see map below). We talk to many people who are not part of a church family and give no evidence of living Christian lives. However, they almost all seem to feel a little bit guilty that they are not "in church." The strangest part of it all is when people tell us that they "go to church," but can't recall when they last went. One man yesterday couldn't even remember the name of his church.
The ironic and difficult thing for us is that we are less concerned about church than we are about salvation. While we want to share the good news of Christ, most folks we talk with immediately begin discussing church before we ever bring it up. This indicates to me that many people in our country continue to link church affiliation/attendance with some sort of salvation status.
Another piece of irony is that we aren't in the recruiting business. If people tell us that they are active in a good church, we simply encourage them to continue. This surprises people. I suppose the reason for that is that most people who knock on doors anymore are either Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses. A few months ago as we were knocking on doors, one woman told us that she had hesitated to open her door because, "I thought you were Jehovah's Witnesses."
My hope for all this is that we can get to know people in our community, serve people, share the gospel, and see some people surrender their lives to Jesus Christ. Quite honestly, I wish more people that we talk to would be more honest about their current situation. I'd rather hear someone say, "I don't go to church and don't really care to," than to hear, "I go to church, and the name of it is...uhhh...can't remember right now."
Let me close with one positive from yesterday. We talked to one young lady who said she had been "looking for a church." However, she lives with her boyfriend and kids, and they keep to themselves. They have lived in the area for 5 years, but don't really know anyone. We invited her to our church, told her about our upcoming VBS, and asked her if we could serve her in any way. It was a good start to what we hope is a friendship.