By Wissam Nasrallah

Inviting someone to come to church has long been a standing practice in evangelical churches. I have repeatedly heard pastors encourage and challenge their congregations not just to invite their friends to church but to (physically) bring them to church as well. The idea is simple: invite a friend, a coworker or a relative to come to church with you so that the professionals, or in most cases the sole professional, in the building can take care of them from the pulpit while the rest of us sit and hope that at some point they will raise a hand and be saved. Then, having invited someone to church, one can die in peace having “fulfilled his religious duties,” as we say in Arabic mo’adian wajibatihi al diniyeh (مؤديا واجباته الدينية) .

Many churches in the Middle East and elsewhere have adopted a “pulpit based” model of church, or what Warrick Farah and Alan Hirsch have called on this blog “a typical ecclesiology” model. The pulpit based model is where the pulpit becomes the bread-and-butter of pastoral ministry and church life. People come to a church space on Sunday, they worship, they listen (usually to the same person week after week), and then they go back home to their routines. Recently, instead of seizing the opportunity provided by COVID to rethink what it means to be a church, many Lebanese churches have added online elements to this model by sending pre-recorded messages on WhatsApp or Facebook for the congregation to hear.