Should we bring unbelievers to Church?

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by IfbReformer, Jun 30, 2004.

  1. IfbReformer

    IfbReformer
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    This comment by Dr. Bob on another thread inspired me to start a whole new thread on this topic:

    Here is the quote from Dr. Bob:

    I realize this subject could bleed into a Calvinism vs. Arminianism discussion, but I think we are all big enough to keep that from happening.

    If you want to argue Calvinism vs Arminianism go to that forum.

    This discussion is really about evangelistic techniques and what assembly of believers together each week is for.

    So, is it wrong to bring unbelievers to church so they can here the Gospel?

    Should people first be won outside our assembly and then brought in?

    If you believe it is not wrong to bring unbelievers to church, where do you draw the line at incentives(some would call them bribes or gimmicks) to get unbelievers in?

    Maybe the church as corporate body should not be trying to draw unbelievers with its sign and public ads, maybe it should be only individuals in the church bringing their family friends and coworkers?

    Please provide scriptures with your answers.

    I look forward to hearing what you all have to say - then I will chime in with my take. Please do not hijack this forum into a Calvinism - Arminianism debate. I hope the moderator will help with this.


    IFBReformer
     
  2. USN2Pulpit

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    Although many are saved as a result of the preaching of the gospel, many more are saved as the result of the impact of God's Word during face-to-face evangelism.

    There are many that simply invite the unsaved to church because they have no idea how to present the gospel to someone. They prefer to let the preacher handle such business. Although I wish every Christian would testify with confidence and vigor, it's better that they invite people to church than to do nothing at all.

    In the meantime, I must teach them to witness.
     
  3. Molly

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    Church growth should happen like this....believers who love and adore God go to worship Him in a corporate setting....they are equipped to go out and share Christ with a lost world...in the marketplace,schools,homes,etc. Others see the power of God's forgiveness in our lives as we live godly lives,separate from the world....we,as a result of God loving us, love all people and are ready to give an answer for the hope that is in us. God works in their(unsaved) hearts,drawing them to Himself if God so desires,they seek after Him(only because of God's irresistible grace)....They come to church,are baptized and then begin the equipping process.

    God's ways are pretty clear in scripture. His church is to be the pillar and support of truth,He desires for the believers to worship Him in spirit and Truth....Of course we welcome all those who are desiring to know God and will answer any questions....but to make church appealing to the unsaved....very backwards,I must say.

    We should be out there being authentic to Christ's call on our lives,living godly before a lost world,sharing God's word as the answer to ALL of life's issues...We need to know the Word to be able to share it. Asking the lost to *come to church* is a major cop out,IMO.

    Bottom line,the church is for believers who love all people and hope for all to come to love God. We should hold to the standard of teaching God's Word,(expositorally),reverent worship,spiritual depth being an emphasis. This is in contrary to what the world wants....less scripture,more *felt needs* being met,less preaching(keep it short and light),more music,drama,etc(not that these things can not be okay at times) and distractions.....I could go on and on....The church should not be what unbelievers feel more comfortable with. Many churches are making this fundamental mistake and it is very sad.

    When you miss the top button,everything else is off,too!

    Molly
     
  4. All about Grace

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    I assume we are excluding seeker services from this discussion (which obviously would be designed to help a seeker understand the gospel).

    I personally believe church services are about creating environments -- for the believer, an environment of worship (in its various forms) and instruction. For the unbeliever, an environment where they will hear the gospel and witness its life-changing effects among the worshippers.

    As USN2 says above, most believers are uncomfortable sharing their faith, so we encourage them to a) learn how to share their faith & b) encourage them to bring unbelievers to our services where we will make sure they hear the gospel.

    This does not mean every sermon is strictly "evangelistic" in its nature (remember the services are designed for believers' instruction as well). It simply means that whatever subject we are addressing eventually leads back to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ & that needs to be explained at some level each time.

    Evangelism outside the church is often a process and I would contend that evangelism inside the church walls will also be a process at times. It may take an unbeliever more than one sermon to put the pieces of the puzzle together. That's why our sermons, etc. must be balanced with the proper context, presentation, and content.
     
  5. Molly

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    Hi,SBC! We must have been typing at the same time!!!! Great to hear from you!

    Your Friend,
    Molly
     
  6. All about Grace

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    What's up Molly???

    If your approach is correct, can you explain why there were unbelievers present in the Corinthian church gatherings?
     
  7. Molly

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    There are times when unbelievers are present....no big suprise there....but,the problem occurs when we dumb down church services and philosophies of ministry to have as many lost people there as possible...sure we want lost people to hear the gospel and preaching of God's Word...but,the focus of a worship service must be GOD and believers worshipping Him.

    It is not *my* approach.

    Molly
     
  8. All about Grace

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    I stand corrected. It is not just "your" approach. There are others who fall in your camp. ;)

    Once again, you have attacked the straw man and ignored reality. Re-read my post above. Worshipping God and focusing on God do not exclude creating an environment where unbelievers will hear the gospel clearly (eg, the Corinthian church).

    Are you suggesting we should NOT have as many lost people there as possible?
     
  9. All about Grace

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    By the way, can you explain what it means to "dumb down" church services? This term gets used a lot in your posts and I would like to understand exactly what you mean by it.
     
  10. Pastor Larry

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    This is a difficult question. I believe that unbeleivers should be brought to church. But I remind people that I am not their "witnesser." The fact that I will preach teh gospel does not mean they don't have to. They should do it on their own. I will do it publicly. But I do not believe that church should be geared around unbelievers expressly. They should understand what is going on. They should not be catered to unnecessarily.

    Here, our Sun AMs have become our main event in this sense: We try to plan (as much as possible) a service flow with genuine worship as the goal. We are trying to focus on particular issues, mixing chorus and hymns (drawing on the last 400 or so years) in such a way that "tells a story" so to speak ... that gets people concentrating on one idea (such as characteristics of God, the cross, etc). We try to use music that teaches (i.e., communicates truth to each other) and that inspires (i.e., calls each other to response of some sort). We try to include music that is a heart prayer directly to God and emphasize that we are not, at this point teaching one another any longer. We are now responding directly to God. While I realize that unbelievers cannot worship, hopefully the worship we are doing is teaching them something about God and our proper response to him. Hopefully they are seeing people who truly love God respond to him from their heart.

    In the preaching on Sun AM, I have gone ultra simple ... I preach expositorily for the most part, straight through books. I am currently in Hebrews, finishing chapter 6 this week. My goal in study is to preach the basic truths in a down to earth way, so that both believers and unbelievers can understand what their response to the passage is to be. (In two weeks, I will take a break from Hebrews for a summer topical series on "How to Deal with How you Feel when ..." It will address the biblical demands for the emotions of life.) Our deeper teaching is generally on Sunday nights and Wednesday nights.

    We do have coffee and doughnuts/bagels/fruit of some sort in between our 9:30 worship and 11:00 Bible study groups. IT is a time of fellowship and getting to know one another. That is about as far as we go in attracting people.

    I am against gimmmicks (swallowing gold fish, giving out candy, etc.). I will give stuff out that is spiritual in nature or that does not have a great attraction value ... for instance, a rose on Mother's Day or something like that. I don't like cheesy stuff. I think the main attraction ought to be the message, not the band, the singers, the presentation, etc. I think the use of flyers, advertisements, etc. is appropriate provided it is straightforward about who you are. Don't get people there under the guise of something that you are not.

    In the end, I don't think there is a lot of Scripture. I think Paul's example to know nothing except Christ crucified and to preach the word of Christ only, with simplicity of speech rules out most of what is done ... (bus promotions, goldfish, candy bars, heavy leanings on some types of music, etc). If the gospel is not enough to save, then there is no salvation. It needs to be clearly communicated and addressed to the audience where they live day to day. But we don't need gimmicks. If you start that, it will take more to keep it going.

    Maybe that is too vague to be helpful ... Who knows ...
     
  11. Molly

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    SBC,

    Surely you know that many churches have adopted the philosophy of ministry that involves 15 minute sermonettes with little exposition,mainly topical light social sermons...stories,illustrations(not saying all of these are bad). Their music philosophy is usually the same,light carefree songs repeated over and over. Your church may not be doing this,but many are. This describes a *dumbing down* that I have mentioned. I know you know what I am talking about. Maybe your church is more balanced,but many do church this way. It attract crowds,but I doubt a lot of spiritual stuff is going on.

    If lost come to church,it is fine,we welcome them....obviously God has drawn them there for His purposes....I am not saying they should not come...but the church is for believers to worship and be equipped to go out.....

    I agree with Pastor Larry...no gimmicks,please. Preach the Word and depend on its sufficiency to draw men,save men,and sanctify men.

    Enough said!

    Molly
     
  12. All about Grace

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    Larry,

    As usual, I agree with most of your post. I think we are basically on the same wavelength on this issue. I am probably more flexible in my methodology than you, but I think we agree for the most part.

    I would consider myself a primary "witnesser" for the people. The bottom line is that most believers are simply uncomfortable with sharing their faith (call it disobedience or laziness but it is still the reality). For that reason, we teach them to be who they are and learn to share (thru a course like "How to Be a Contagious Christian") and we let them know that they can at least invite unbelievers to our church. It is a part of the chain process that God often uses to bring people to Christ (one sows, another waters).

    Molly,

    I think you write on this subject based on 2 primary premises: 1) what you have heard from someone else (most likely your pastor & influences such as MacArthur) and not experienced firsthand yourself & 2) popular straw men (which is a natural result of premise 1). I could be corrected, but what you write reflects the same thoughts as many with whom I regularly discuss this topic. Most of them are simply parrotting what they have heard from others.

    Repeatedly I ask for real life examples of the type of accusations you make above and rarely do I get actual facts. I merely get opinions based upon one's own preferences.

    It is too bad you do not live in IN. I will be speaking at a leaders conference in August on "The Unchanging God of Change: developing a proper theology of change." I will address many of the popular misconceptions about what it means to be a relevant church & speaking biblically and theologically on the necessity of change. I will also talk about how to create environments where the believer grows and the unbeliever hears.
     
  13. Siegfried

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    I am assuming that the Corinthians reference to unbelievers present in a church meeting is to 1 Corinthians 14:22-27. There are a couple reasons this passage provides no support for making evangelism a primary purpose of a church worship service.

    First, this passage in no way suggests that believers ought to be inviting unbelievers to a church service. There is not even any indication in this text that believers invited the unbelievers that showed up. In fact, it is purely hypothetical to Paul that they even would show up. Certainly it's likely that they would, whether invited or uninvited, but in no way is Paul saying that because they ought to be brought to the service or targetted during the service. Does that mean we should NOT invite believers to church? Of course not, but this passsage certainly doesn't support evangelism as a purpose of church services. We shouldn't be expecting that the pastor will preach an evangelistic sermon so they'll get saved.

    Second, Paul is actually arguing AGAINST church services that are targetted toward unbelievers. Paul's argument is that all things should be done for edification of believers in a church service. Since tongues were a sign to unbelievers, they were not to be present in the church except within very strict guidelines. If fact, it's the prophecy--the very part of the service that is specifically "for those who believe"--that causes the unbelievers to worship God. This passage teaches that salvation of unbelievers is an "unintended consequence" (from a human perspective) of a church service, not a primary objective.
     
  14. KeeperOfMyHome

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    My pastor calls the church a "hospital for the sick". I disagree very much with this statement for one very obvious reason:

    Jesus said He came to heal . . . are we still sick and in need of a physician AFTER we're saved? I don't think so. God's word says I'm made WHOLE! I am complete in Christ.

    Julia
     
  15. Siegfried

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    This is a classic pragmatic argument. When the church members aren't fulfilling their biblical responsibility, the answer is not to strategize how the pastor can make up for their deficiencies, but to teach them about their responsibility. I think this comes down to a faith issue--do we who are pastors and teachers really believe that God's Word will accomplish what He intends if we preach and teach what He said?

    SBCBG,

    As long as we're talking about a tangentially related issue, what are your thoughts on Mark Dever? With your SBC/Southern ties, I'm guessing you're familiar with him.
     
  16. Molly

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    SBC,
    I am very like minded with John MacArthur,as well as my pastor...we came to these conclusions through studying God's Word,though...not from following man. I do appreciate men like John MacArthur who make a bold stand for God's Word.

    I appreciate your input.

    How do you and I both agree with Pastor Larry? I feel as if I am very balanced as well....maybe you have misunderstood me. I thought I was saying very similar things as Pastor Larry.

    Molly
     
  17. HappyG

    HappyG
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    So let me get this straight...church is what we do on Sunday mornings in between four walls at a building called by that name?

    And the question is should we invite unbelievers to join us between those 4 walls on Sunday mornings?

    And would it be wrong to make the message relevant to them if they are present at "church"?

    Hmmmmm

    My answer, there are alot of "churches" that I wouldn't want to invite my unsaved unchurched friends too!
     
  18. Molly

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    God's Word is relevant and everything we need pertaining to life and godliness.....God doesn't need men to *make* it relevant.

    I'm not sure I understand the rest of your post.....?
     
  19. All about Grace

    All about Grace
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    We are not discussing "seeker" services (which would be a service that has evangelism as a primary purpose).

    I have never argued evangelism is the primary purpose of an average worship service. Re-read the posts.

    My whole point in bring 1 Cor into the discussion was the fact that unbelievers were present in the Corinthians gathering. The original question regards whether unbelievers should be invited to church. Well obviously they were present in at least this one instance.

    Paul does not prescribe an universal "worship order" for the local church. He is simply addressing the reality of what was occurring in the churches. That's why we are even having this discussion to begin with -- there is no concrete prescription for particular elements that must transpire when the local church gathers. There are obvious principles of Christ-centeredness, but to find an order of worship in the NT, one will search in vain.
     
  20. Pastor Larry

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    Siegfriend, I don't think that Paul is preaching against inviting unbelievers to church. I think he is rather addressing a different issue, and acknowledging the reality that unbelievers will be there, no matter by what means or for what reason they come.

    I also you think you misunderstand "unbelievers." The unbelievers there, IMO, are the Jews who do not believe that the gospel is for all and were exclusive. Tongues are a sign ... sign that the gospel is for Gentiles as well, and Acts 18 brings out that point. It is not spiritual unbelievers (i.e., unsaved) ... they are confused by tongues, not edified the passage tells us. Tongues are sign to exclusivistic Jews who are "unbelievers" about the universal scope of the gospel message. Having said that, I don't think the passage teaches anything with respect to intended or unintended salvation. I think it is addressing something entirely different.

    My main issue with your approach is that it seems to denigrate or at least minimize evangelism as a purpose of the church. I agree with you, if you are speaking of churches who are totally evangelistic and never do anything else. But if evangelism is a purpose of the NT (and it most undoubtedly is), then the church should be devoted to that. There are many ways to do it, and a service is one of those ways. Here, as I said, as Sunday AM service and one of the Adult Bible Study groups is geared towards basics and unbelievers. We devote our Sunday night and Wednesday night to the more in depth doctrinal/applicational teaching.

    Keeper, Yes and No ... Even believers are dealing with the struggles of life. There are no perfect believers. In that sense, we are growing through life and are still sinners, even though we are complete in Christ. With due respect, I think your objection kind of misses the point ... To me, the "sick" metaphor is a broad one that describes the church as a place to help people take the next spiritual step, whatever that may be. It is not a resort where you come to do nothing.

    SBC, I agree that many are scared, lazy, etc ... I know that to be true because I am that way ... EVerytime I go out to talk to people, I am such a chicken until I get started. I spent about an hour last night knocking on doors just introducing myself and getting to know people ... I am using Warren's questions as a general basis though I am not slavishly devoted to them. Have you ever done that? Would be curious to hear other's responses ... But I digress. I am not a people person really (though some find that hard to believe ... my brother jokes about me going in my "pastor mode" ... But I digress again) ... so it is very hard for me to get started. I can find a hundred excuses but in the end, you do what you are supposed to do. After I get started, it is not bad ...

    But anyway, we just finished a Wednesday Bible study on the Contagious Christian book, though I did my own lessons rather than use his. I recommended people get the book and read it. By doing my own, I was able to emphasize what I wanted and skip over the parts that I think are less than stellar. In the end, growing churches have an evangelistic, reachout type of culture that is hard to maintain, but contagious in a lot of ways.

    Another book well worth reading is Tell the Truth by Will Metzger. He has some great little exercises in the appendix. I thought it was an excellent book ... much more theologically sound than Contagious Christian was. Contagious Christian is great on the people end of it ... getting to know them, building relationships, etc. I love the formula. Tell the Truth is better on the theological end ... addressing the theology--sinfulness, man, God, etc.

    I have also tried to emphasize to them that evangelism is a process, not an event. It takes time to build the relationship, but sooner or later you have to get around to spiritual things.
     

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