People do not usually come to church because of a slick marketing campaign. Most people come to church because of a personal invitation. Becoming a congregation who invites others into the community to hear the word of God is, then, an important aspect of fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Now, you might be thinking, “But inviting someone to church isn’t the same as sharing the gospel with them.” And you’re right, of course. Inviting someone to church is NOT the same thing as sharing the gospel with them. But inviting someone to church IS an important part in the process of having them hear and believe the gospel. Why?
First, many Christians do not share the gospel in the first place. It’s a fairly hard ask, in my opinion, to have someone go from not sharing the gospel at all to full on evangelizing. Maybe there’s an intermediate step? I would suggest that inviting someone to church is that intermediate step. It’s a way of Christians getting used to pursuing others and having some sort of spiritual conversation. Over time, those skills can be built upon so that believers can regularly share the gospel with others.
Second, church is a vital part of evangelism. In fact, it’s the end goal in some ways. Jesus does not tell us to make converts; he tells us to make disciples. And a disciple is someone who is born again into a new family, the church. If you happen to share the gospel with someone, but don’t work to get them deeply connected in a church, you have not made a disciple. So inviting someone to church introduces them to the normal Christian life—life lived in the community of the church. “No one can have God as his father who does not have the church as his mother” as Saint Cyprian used to say.
Third, church should be where they hear the gospel. If we’re not preaching the gospel every Sunday, then what are we doing? Inviting someone to church is important because even if you don’t feel equipped to share Jesus with them just yet, they should hear it through the worship service. The apostle Paul seemed to think that unbelievers would be present in the church’s worship services to some degree (1 Corinthians 14:23-25). How did they get there? Maybe through personal invitation.