I find myself thinking a lot about church these days. Through the years I have attended many different churches and experienced a variety of worship and preaching styles. The differences are a testament to our uniqueness as individuals in search of the one true God.
I grew up in an Episcopal church where we observed Lent, focusing on Christ's sacrifical death on the cross for our sins and culminating with a celebration of his resurrection on Easter Sunday. However, except for our youth retreats I cannot remember the plan of salvation ever being explained or an invitation to salvation ever being offered. I grew up with a knowledge of right and wrong but was well into my teens before I understood that in order to be a Christian and spend eternity in heaven I needed to invite Jesus into my heart as Savior. Being baptized and confirmed, attending church every Sunday, and singing in the choir were not enough.
After I got married I began attending a non-denominational church where an altar call was occasionally given to offer an invitation to salvation. At first it seemed a little "over the top" to me but as years went on I began to see those invitations to receive Christ as the natural conclusion to the anointed preaching of God's Word. By then I was already saved but I witnessed time and time again the lives changed because others finally understood that Christianity is not about ritual or religion but about that sacred relationship between Jesus and sinful man accomplished at the moment of salvation.
I wonder how many of us attend church our whole life long and never really understand the doctrine of salvation? How many of us stroll in and out of church week in and week out, worshiping, serving, and hearing God's Word proclaimed but never quite understanding that salvation requires inviting Jesus into our hearts and committing to a relationship with Him?
While an altar call or lack of one doesn't make a church good or bad I believe we all, as individuals and leaders in our churches, need to be more intentional in our evangelism. Let us not assume that those beside us in the pew will spend eternity with us in heaven. Instead let us pray for opportunities to share our salvation story and invite others to begin theirs.
If you have attended church for a long time but have never really been sure of your salvation, please know that this very day YOU ARE INVITED to receive Christ's salvation for your sins. It is His free gift to you and your ticket to paradise if only you will receive Him as your Savior.
Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com