By Ken Nabi, President & Executive Minister of Converge Great Lakes
One of the challenges for a pastor is to keep his congregation mindful of the scores of lost all around them these days. It is so easy for the average churchgoer to get inoculated to the “lostness” of thousands of people who are far from God and living apart from His forgiveness and grace. When the majority of our people gather for corporate worship in a local church there are plenty of empty chairs all around them, and in the American consumerist mindset we like our space, so the empty space next to us is a convenient comfort. But, we need to turn this around and let the empty chair bother us.
As a Pastor, I would periodically gather our people together to pray for a variety of issues in the community and our nation. We would often end these corporate prayer efforts by meeting in the sanctuary and walking along touching each and every chair, asking God to bring the person to that chair who was far from Him and needing to hear His truth and experience His mercy and love. From this practice, we began to say “every chair has a name on it and the empty chairs must bother us.”
Some churches have pews. Some churches have theater seats. Some churches have stackable chairs. Almost every church has empty seating and it is my prayer for every church that the empty chair would begin to bother us. Why? Because every chair has a name on it and that name represents a life being squandered and rushing toward eternal darkness separated from God.
Pastor, do you believe that every chair has a person’s name on it? Do you believe that God wants to draw lost people to your church to experience His transforming power as they repent and turn to life? If you say yes to those two questions, then I pray that the empty chair begins to impact your leadership and the urgency in your preaching. God will likely draw people to Himself and thus to the gathered people of God when they are invited, cared for, and their needs anticipated.
We know that Jesus crucified seems crazy to the lost person, but to those who trust in Him, it is life.