“God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.” ~ Acts 17:27
What a wonderful Family Day Celebration we had 2 weeks ago, where many of our family members and friends joined COR as a church to “Celebrate our Children and Honor our Parents”. Both young and old had fun at the carnival: the children loved the bouncy castle and the different carnival activities; the adults enjoyed the performance and the video put up by the children. There was something for everyone! Many of us took the opportunity to reach out to our pre-believing loved ones. Even our little ones invited their friends. We had more than 800 people that weekend! Personally, I met many new friends and noted their appreciation the welcome and hospitality of our church. While they may not subscribe to the Christian faith, these visitors were definitely open to participate in our church community. As I reflected on that, it reaffirmed my belief that “community” indeed comes before “conversion”. Let me explain.
In the past, many of us see evangelism as bringing our friends to some Christian gatherings where they would hopefully be convinced of the Gospel and pray the sinner’s prayer (salvation prayer). Once they were “converted”, we would encourage them to be a part of the church community – participating in worship services or cell groups amongst others. Conversion first, then community. In reality, conversion does not happen overnight. It is a process of seeking and finding God. As Paul told the people of Athens, God’s desire is for all men to seek him and reach out for him and find him. And this seeking and finding should take place in a loving Christian community. So the approach that COR is now adopting is to invite our pre-believing friends to experience our Church community first. We are constantly looking for opportunities to involve them in our communal activities such as events promoting common values like family and friendship, or special Christian celebrations like Christmas and Easter, or just having fun and hanging out together over a common interests like walking, badminton or even eating! As our loved ones experience the love of God through our Christian community, they will inevitably encounter the reality and love of God in our midst, ultimately giving their lives to Christ. Community first, then conversion. So if you know someone who does not yet know Jesus, would you look out for these opportunities to invite them to COR? And as they come, would you connect them with other brothers and sisters in our community? As we welcome these friends, let us trust that our God who desires for all to seek Him, will personally draw them to Himself.
Rev. David Lee