Is Your Life a Welcome Mat?
In a recent message, Tony Salva dived into the essential calling of every Christ-follower to make disciples. He explored why starting new churches is critical and how each of us are commissioned to invest in others.
Salva began by sharing his role as the new Executive Director of the Christian Evangelistic Association (CEA), which helped launch Generations Church. He cast vision for new churches being planted around the Northwest. Though church closures are on the rise, new churches effectively reach people disconnected from faith.
Walking through current statistics, Salva outlined several factors demonstrating the need for more new churches:
- Population growth: The U.S. population is rapidly expanding. Churches must increase to accommodate.
- Cultural shifts: Each generation identifies less with Christianity. The “nones” (religiously unaffiliated) are the fastest growing group, especially in the Northwest.
- Church closures: Thousands of churches are permanently closing each year. Church planting is not keeping pace.
Salva asserted these dynamics create a prime opportunity to creatively connect with unreached people. Despite the closure trends in the U.S., the global church continues growing rapidly. Starting new churches remains essential for making disciples regionally and nationally too.
Salva then transitioned to discussing our personal mission as disciple-makers. Jesus’ final words commission his followers to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). We must invest in others as disciples who make disciples.
This begins by cultivating a welcoming heart. Salva challenged us to consider who we are pouring into. Do others outside the church feel safe around us? Do we genuinely love all people, even enemies?
Next, he emphasized making our homes a welcoming space where isolated people find family. Sharing his story, Salva recalled the loner teen experience of being invited into his friend’s home. This family’s love revealed God’s love, starting his faith journey.
As people wounded by family need healing in family, we must open our tables and rooms. There’s no better disciple-making ground than safe homes where belonging is modeled.
In closing, Salva reminded that church exists for those not yet present. We drift when only focused inwardly. With over 8 billion people in the world, the harvest is ripe.
Yet workers are few. Disciples who make disciples start by loving their neighbor – meeting tangible needs, opening their homes, listening deeply. We must avoid complacency and continue sending ourselves out.
The world needs the real love of Jesus lived out through his people. As we reject a closed-off posture, living as contagious ambassadors, the Gospel will spread family to family, life to life. May we stay focused on our commission to make disciples by investing in others.