A brother was leading a Sunday morning meeting in his local church, and he felt led to miss the opening prayer in favour of small groups to turn to each other, and pray about their concerns briefly. The people did just that, and the meeting continued as normal. However later in the week one of the leaders contacted him and requested that he did not use this method again, as he felt it could make visitors feel uncomfortable. It certainly should not make believers feel uneasy as part of a Christian gathering is for prayer!
Those who lead have a duty to stimulate worship, prayer and a desire to obey the Word of God.
This raises a very interesting issue for today’s contemporary ‘user friendly’ churches. Their evangelism sometimes has the primary aim of making friends with people, and thus to introduce them into the life of the church before conversion. The clear cut gospel is not always presented at these gatherings, as the aim at social events, is to create a friendly atmosphere. In time there are people who do start to attend regular, but they are unconverted!
We need to pray for these people!
Some years ago I was supporting a church and part of the leadership team. In one of the prayer meetings the Pastor mentioned the need for prayer for those who had attended the evening service for years, and he was unsure if they were Christians. I was puzzled, so asked him if he had ever questioned them. To my surprise he had not.
It is not so much ‘praying for these people’, as giving them the gospel in the planned evangelistic opportunities, so that right from the start they know the way of salvation. Pastoral visitation is a vital ministry also.
The purpose of the church.
The purpose of the church is to encourage believers through ministry, prayer and fellowship, any other meeting, if unbelievers are invited, must have a gospel challenge included, and not simply be a social gathering., otherwise we encouraging unbelievers to join the church and in time this can create problems, even hinder true spiritual growth, like a friend from USA, on a team visit, shared with me a few years back.
A church she knew for being keenly evangelical, had gone a long way down the road, with ‘user friendly’ ideas. They had a gym extension and introduced many out of church club activities. It worked for getting new folk into church, and the congregation grew, but problems developed between the new ‘unconverted members’ and the ‘born again’ folk, finally some to the former were voted unto the leadership, and in time they voted off the ‘spiritual leaders.’ The church that was known for faithful Bible teaching had now become liberal!
Reaching the lost.
It is highly commendable that churches are seeking to reach out to the lost, are looking for ways to be more effective in bringing folk to salvation, but we need to turn away from methods which are nonscriptural, and return to the pattern which we see in the New Testament.
The Peter said to them, “Repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2 v 38
“testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Acts 20 v 2l
Then those who gladly received his word were baptized and that day about thee thousand souls were added to them.’ Acts 2 v 41