The way we view the church makes a huge difference in how we “do church.” There are two primary views on the church.
The first is that the church is a gathering of professing baptized believers, coming together to observe the ordinances, edify and encourage the body, proclaim the gospel to the world through evangelistic preaching and the establishment of churches, and discipline those who walk contrary to the doctrines and covenant of the church. This view sees the purpose of the church to be the building up of believers so that they will be strong in the world where they live.
The second view of the church is that it is an evangelistic center. Believers come together but mainly for the purpose of bringing unbelievers so that they can hear the gospel and be saved. This view sees the purpose of the church to be the bringing in of unbelievers so that they can be saved.
How you view the church will make a huge difference in your approach to the functions of the church. There is a huge divide between fundamental and evangelical church leaders. Because of this divide in the purpose of the church, churches are facing huge decisions in direction.
Those who view the church as an evangelistic center are moving to a more contemporary style of service. Note some of changes taking place:
- They seek to provide a more relaxed atmosphere, seeking to make unbelievers more comfortable.
- They seek to encourage people of all walks of life, such as homosexuals, drug users, gangs, etc. to attend.
- They use contemporary music that would more closely fit the lifestyle of unbelievers, making the music more culturally relevant.
- They recommend “dressing down” to make the unbelievers less conspicuous.
- They usually remove all the platform furniture that resembles a traditional Protestant church.
- They use technology, both visual and auditory, to keep attention.
- Other means of communicating the gospel than traditional preaching is welcomed, although there is usually a short message.
- The doctrinal statement is often reduced to a short, concise statement of the five fundamentals.
- Requirements for membership to serve in the church are usually minimal.
Those who view the church as a gathering of believers to be built up, strengthened in the faith and encouraged are satisfied with a more traditional style of service. Note the following:
- A doctrinal agreement and the covenant are held in high regard.
- Worship is current but not contemporary, stressing the holiness of God.
- Dressing up is not stressed, but those who attend come with their best to honor God.
- The pulpit is seen as paramount because it represents the teaching of the Word of God.
- The use of technology is not shunned; it is seen as only a means to an end, the glory of God.
- Requirements for membership before serving are understood as keeping a standard of holiness.
- Everyone is welcome, but the standards are not lowered to benefit or make the unbeliever more comfortable.
Here are some thoughts on light and darkness.
- It is the descriptive word of those who are lost
- The darkness cannot understand/comprehend the light- John 1:5
- The lost hate the light- John 3:19
- Darkness resides in the heart of a liar- John 1:6; 2:9,11
- Darkness is part of hell- 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6
- Jesus came into the world to bring light and dispel darkness- John 12:46
- Jesus Christ is the Light- John 1:1-9; Matthew 17:2
- Believers are light in the world- Matt. 5:14, 16
- Light and darkness have no fellowship- 2 Cor. 6:14
- Believers should walk as children of light- Ephesians 5:8
- Ministry is about light and darkness- 2 Corinthians 4
For sure, every believer welcomes any unbeliever into the assembly so that he or she can be exposed to the light. For various reasons, unbelievers sometimes come. Over my years as pastor, I cannot think of many who walked into church and were saved. If they did come, they were doing someone a favor, and God did a miracle and saved them. The majority of those who came to Christ did so outside the church, either in their homes or another person’s home.
I have made it a practice over the past few years to ask people how they were saved. The stories are amazing and unusual. I always come away saying, “Salvation is of the Lord.”
- HOW DO YOU VIEW THE CHURCH?
- HOW ARE YOU PREPARING BELIEVERS TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD?
- HOW ABOUT DOING AN ASSESSMENT QUESTIONAIRE OF THE CHURCH TO FIND OUT HOW PEOPLE WERE SAVED? IT WILL BE EYE-OPENING.