He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells his apostles to GO and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Holy Trinity (see Matthew 28:19). In today’s passage, we see him SENDING OUT his apostles in pairs to proclaim the good news of salvation. And although Jesus had prayer meetings in his house (see Mark 2:1-12), these were a rarity. For the most part he was on the move, traveling from one city to another; one town to another.
Contrast this with the models churches use today to reach out to the lost. They are mostly “invitational”. We stay put in one place and try to attract people to our church services or our prayer meetings. Consequently, we spend a lot of energy in devising strategies to increase “memberships” to our respective “clubs”, whereas we can be going out with the message of salvation.
This is, of course, harder to do, because it means we need to be bold enough to venture out of comfort zones and risk rejection. What if people don’t want to listen to the message? Well, that IS going to happen, and Jesus says so too. But if they reject the message, it is not on us! Our job is to preach the message; if people accept it, great. If they don’t, Jesus tells us to shake the dust off our feet, which basically means we are to leave them to God’s judgment; we have done our part.
Now, when we go out with the gospel message — as missionaries did for centuries after Christ — our churches grow. Why? Because these people who have heard and accepted the gospel message want to know more about Jesus. They want to grow in their faith. And where can they do that except in church? (I am now referring to the building, not the body!)
And, then, these people who were lost and are now found, go out in search for others who are lost, and the church continues to grow. This is how the early church grew. The people Peter preached to gathered in the temple courts. But they didn’t stop there. They met in each others homes, continuing to talk about the good news to people, and “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (see Acts 2:42-47).
So. Go! And people will come!