Let’s do a little though experiment. A somewhat large church almost tripled its attendance yesterday for Easter services. The entire congregation worked together to invite people to the Easter service. They came. The church had to seat people in the lobby it was so jam packed. Success?
Some of my readers will be astute enough to ask, “what did they use to get these people”? Certainly if they used some sort of sinful practice or watered down the gospel then it was not a success. But if they did not do anything innately sinful and they preached the gospel then I think we can say that it was a success.
Here is where I might surprise you. I don’t think the key issue is what they used to reach people. The whole philosophy is what is messed up. When a local gathering makes their Lord’s day meeting primarily about the evangelization of the unbeliever instead of the edification of the body through the worship of her Head, a subtle and dangerous shift takes place. The church becomes primarily about man instead of God.
It is often advised of a church to ask this question of its worship service: “What would an unbeliever think if he/she were attending”? That is a good question, but the better question is this: “What does God think, as He is attending”? Do you see the shift? Rather than asking questions that can only be answered through Scripture we are now answering questions that can be answered through an opinion poll.
The issue here is not whether or not the church should be concerned with reaching the lost. The Great Commission is not optional. If the church is not concerned with spreading the glory of God to the nations then it should just close its doors. It is barely a church in any meaningful sense of the word. The question that I am considering is not whether we should be passionate about reaching unbelievers. My question is, what should the church look like to an unbeliever on a Sunday morning? Should it be a catering church—primarily for the unbeliever, or should it be a comprehensible—primarily for the believer, but understandable to the unbeliever?