An old friend of mine became a believer when he went to church to receive a set of ratchet wrenches. No kidding. He was one of these cynical people who had attended church when he was a young person but had gotten burned when someone at church scolded him about long hair and hippie clothes back in the sixties. But, one week a local congregation called to tell him about their latest scheme. They were giving a set of ratchet wrenches to the first 100 people at church that week. He went down, camped in the Church parking lot, received his free set of wrenches, and during the service answered Christ's call to salvation.
Another pal received the gift of eternal life through the bus ministry of a local church. Now, he attended only for the little bag of candy they distributed to the riders and the shiny new quarter the bus captain slipped to him every Sunday morning. One Sunday he also received the gift of God's grace and is now eternally His. More than that, he pastor's a church in North Carolina.
Shoot kids, churches have been using schemes and gimmicks to place people under the Gospel for many years. Magicians, power teams, parachutists, dinner theaters, concerts, evangelists, movie nights, auto clinics, motorcycle ministries, fall and spring carnivals, marriage enrichment seminars, counseling centers, recovery ministries, camps, give-aways, and ratchet wrenches---just to mention a few of the ways churches seek to draw a crowd.
What is more, motives for attending church are not always that sacred either. People attend for equally diverse and often unholy reasons. Build a list with me---to be seen, to show off something new, to meet a potential life partner, to play in the band, to associate with other people, to add a line item on the personal resume, to receive a free meal, to be entertained by the music or the stand-up preacher, in search of answers for complicated life issues, to get a moment of peace and rest while the kids are in the nursery, free t-shirts, a good cup of coffee, the air-conditioned facilities. Keep going---
I read about a guy who took a gun to church so he could kill the man his wife was tangled with in a lurid affair. They all got saved that day, plus the other wife. Two marriages were reconciled in the process. As they say in Pumpkintown, ain't God good?
This is the Lord's day and many of us will gather. Our Saturday and Sunday worship and ministry teams have rehearsed to guide our worship experiences. Ron and I have prepared a message from the Bible text God has impressed on my heart. People will gather from many walks of life and for a variety of reasons. Expectations will vary with the unique needs in peoples lives. And, the Word of God will not return empty, but will accomplish fully what He intends with it.
And, we'll be there, good motives and bad, earthen vessels hoping to be used by God for His eternal purpose.
Maybe a new set of ratchet wrenches too.