All the research shows that unchurched people are wide open to an invitation to church. That means they won’t be offended if you raise the subject. It doesn’t mean that everyone will take you up on an invitation. But inviting people to church simply works. But we have a problem.
Old school – back in the day – hardcore stuff taught us to bang on the door and get them to hear the Gospel on the doorstep. Then we graduated (?) to banging on the door Sunday morning to get the kids to come to Sunday School on the bus. The hope was that the parents would get it eventually and come with the kids. How did that all work out? Not so much? So what did we do?
We graduated again to “lifestyle” evangelism. Back the bus up with me. Did that imply that what we were doing before wasn’t our lifestyle? Or did it mean we failed to follow the direct instruction of Scripture and lived like pagans instead? Actually, what it meant more often than not was “I keep my mouth shut until somebody asks me something about religion. Then I will give a tentative answer because I wouldn’t want to offend anyone.” Lifestyle is not evangelism. Evangelism is more than lifestyle.
Jesus was very explicit on how they are going to know. But it took me a lot of years to figure out where the batteries were in this. Do you see where the power is? Hint: It is more than the power of love. Read carefully.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
What does that say? I missed it for so long and perhaps you have too. My experience is that most individuals and definitely most churches miss it. I thought it said something about me loving my neighbour. (That too.) But it isn’t in this verse. This verse is about love among believers.
The “Authorized By Jesus” method for unbelievers to know whether or not you are a true believer is to see you in the context of loving other believers. Witnessing in your favourite coffee shop doesn’t cut it unless you have one or more Christian friends with you. But in that case, your unbelieving friends might feel like you are ganging up on them. It is simple. Just get your friend to the place where believers meet. How hard is that? In other words, invite them to church and they will be gobsmacked. Or not. If not, you have some work to do on the inside. But don’t forget your church is familiar to you and there is a high probability that you don’t know how impressive it already is. Yes, you can do better but a meeting at your church is better than a night school class or a union hall meeting so go ahead get your friend to church.
The love you have for one another is what your friend needs to see to create the context for personal belief.