I think there is an issue that the church is forever facing as culture is always changing: how do we bring people to God? What can we do that will bring people to a place to see that they need a savior? How do we build excitment so that people want to see what is going on? It is interesting because the early church saw many people come to Christ, so what is the difference? Let's look at what was happening at Solomon's Colonnade, which we read about last week. Please turn to Acts 5:12-16.
I know I have said this a few times since studying the book of Acts, but can you picture the scene? Stop for a moment and picture the commotion that must have been happening at Solomon's Colonnade while many people were coming to be healed. The Holy Spirit was at work through the apostles and people were seeing many miracles and healings. Look at verse 15 where it says, "...sick people were brought out into the streets on beds and mats so that Peter's shadow might fall across some of them as he went by." The apostles were not creating the scene; however, God was! I think that is a very important point to remember. We cannot control how God wants to move, but we can be a willing part of His movement.
Having grown up in a very large church and seeing my husband on staff at some very large churches, it is easy to get caught up in attractional models. I enjoy excellence and quality, and I do believe that the church needs to do the best it can with the resources that it is given; however, we need to be careful that we do not focus soley on material things and programs to attract people to church. There is something to be said that in our culture, people enjoy an experience. Think of how McDonald's has worked to update and redecorate it's existing restaraunts and how so much of a coffee shop's success is based on the atmosphere it creates. But that isn't necessarily what draws the most unsaved people to the church. Overall, atmosphere is enticing, but the coffee still needs to be good. Please keep in mind that this is my own observation and I am not currently backing it with any data; but what I have witnessed in the churches we have attended is that when we go out and do God's work by loving people and helping people that draws more people to meet God. I think a church still needs to do quality, but quality in and of itself will not bring unsaved people in its doors. Creating a scene by showing God's love to the hurting will bring people to God.
The world desparately wants to see a difference between the world and those who follow Christ. Just as the coffee shop needs to make good coffee, we need to be doing good works so that we shine for Christ. I love the way the NLT translates James 3:17, "So you see, faith by itself isn't enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless."
What is the church doing to show the world that faith makes a difference? Are you being used by God so people sees a difference?