The empty chair

Ken Nabi

Regional President

  • Evangelism

One of the challenges for a pastor is to keep his congregation mindful of the scores of lost people all around them. It is so easy for the average churchgoer to become immune to the "lostness" of thousands of people who are far from God and living apart from his forgiveness and grace.

Every chair has a name on it, and the empty chairs must bother us.

When our people gather for corporate worship in a local church, there are empty chairs all around them. In the American consumerist mindset, we like our space, and the empty space next to us is a convenient comfort, but the empty chair should bother us.

While I was pastoring a  local congregation, I would gather our people to pray for our community and our nation. We would often end these corporate prayer efforts by walking along, touching each and every chair in our sanctuary, asking God to bring the person to that chair who needed 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."

Whether you lead a new church or an established church, the empty seat should bother you. Whether you are a traditional church, a contemporary church or a missional church, the empty seat should bother you. Whether you meet in a warehouse, a movie theater or a church building, the empty seat should bother you. Whether your church has pews or theater seats or stackable chairs, the empty seat should bother you.

It is my prayer that every Converge church would begin to see the empty chairs not as a matter of convenience and comfort in worship, but as a constant reminder of the thousands who need to encounter the love and forgiveness of Jesus. Every chair has a name on it, and that name represents a life being squandered and rushed toward eternal darkness, separated from God.

Pastor, do you believe that every chair has a person's name on it? Do you challenge your people to live and share their faith with their families, co-workers and friends? Do you believe that God wants to draw lost people to himself to experience his transforming power as they repent and turn to life?

If you say yes, I pray that the empty chair begins to impact your leadership and give urgency to your preaching. God will draw people to himself and, thus, to the gathered people of God when they are invited and cared for, and their needs are anticipated.

We know that Jesus crucified seems crazy to the lost person, but to those who trust in him, it is life. Don't just care for the ones who are there. Care about the empty chair!

Ken Nabi, Regional President

Ken Nabi has served as the Regional President for Converge Great Lakes since 2016. He earned a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and worked as a Marriage and Family Therapist before enjoying 21 years as a pastor at Community Church of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Ken is a strategic leader focusing on movements and reproducible systems. Community Church of Fond du Lac planted five churches during his tenure, and those churches helped plant seven more churches.

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