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Back in mid 70s, "Brother Hamburger", a church youth leader, reached out to those outside the church through a basketball ministry. He invited some recent Vietnamese immigrants to church. They got confused. One of them said he thought he was coming to church to play ping-pong.
We are to feed the sheep, not count them.
It's noble to try to share the gospel and bring others into the kingdom, letting others find the treasure you found. But our job is to present the unadulterated Word and let God do the work of conversion. In John Bunyan's "The Pilgrim's Progress", the allegory of the soul, Evangelist points up to God and leads Christian towards the light that leads to the Wicket Gate.
During one of my episodes where I lost my way and rejected the gospel, I used to talk with a woman at college who had graduated from the Christian school my siblings attended. She was with Campus Crusade for Christ. After discussing the faith with her on a few occasions, raising my questions, she became flustered after I didn't return to the faith. "Why don't you believe? Haven't we rapped enough?!", she said frantically.
Presenting the gospel to win souls is not done by using a formula. It's not like a science project where you make a paper mache volcano, shake some baking soda inside, add red food die and pour in vinegar and presto, you have a volcano! Human behavior doesn't work that way.
What is the unadulterated Word?
"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" 1 Cor. 4:7 and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" 1 Cor. 15:10.
God comes to us; we don't come to him. In our sinful nature, we create God in our image. God is who He is, not who we think He is.
I am a sinner saved by grace, which produces faith and works, all of which I cannot do on my own.
As Christians, our responsibility if to preach the word and set a good example by leading a Godly life, emulating Jesus. A few years ago, I befriended a homeless woman who was well educated and had a good job and material things. She said she didn't have a contentious relationship with her husband. She just felt empty and left, and tried to fill the void with alcohol. A homeless guy, an unofficial homeless leader in one area, told me I may be able to help her and thought we can relate well together because we are both well educated.
It worked for awhile. We read books we got out from the library that was the nucleus of "The Memorial Mob", a term of endearment the homeless leader coined for our tribe (we hung out at the nearby Veterans Memorial), and discussed the books. We also talked about art and other things. I tried to reach her with the gospel, but she dogmatically said she was a Catholic, needed to know just a couple passages and didn't really need to study the Bible. For awhile, she stayed off the bottle, but soon returned. She started alienating people, including myself, tried to alienate me from another homeless guy by making things up, started stealing and creating more lies.
The woman really got messed up.
I got bummed out, feeling bad that I could not help the woman. A homeless guy and a homeless advocate consoled me. They said that I did the best I could and that the woman went her own way. I wasn't responsible for that, they said. The advocate said that all we can do is show people God's love.
needs to realize that her job is not to count the sheep, but to feed them. We are to be in the world but not of the world. Christians should not accomodate worldly ways. People coming into the church need to understand what Christianity is truely about, unlike the Vietnamese guy who thought he was coming to church to play ping-pong.
Easy believism crept into the church, where, to be saved, someone intellectually acknowledges God's work on the cross, which is coupled with a verbal appeal to be saved. With this formula, the belief is that it's Ok to live a sinful life and not show any fruit.
Faith Without Works Is Dead
"What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.' And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also" James 2: 14-26
In the 70s, there was a term for the movement that tried to trick people into accepting Jesus and joining a church, and maybe fleecing the sheep just to increase numbers - "Madison Avenue Christianity." There used to be an add for a menthol cigarette with the slogan "Take a puff, and it's springtime." In some circles, this kind of slick trick is used to bring more people into the church. Wrong!
To bring young people into the church, the emphasis should not be on fun and partying. I know of a church some time ago where some members donated a lot of money to the church, and in a quid pro quo, thought the church services could be a party place for their kids and their friends. The pastor, whom I met, would not play ball with them, so the people brought the pastor up on false charges, saying that he didn't adequately minister to their son who had, I believe, a drug problem. The pastor left, and so did those people, who were able to accomplish their goal with another church and another pastor.
Basic beliefs to have a Godly church:
* The inerrancy and full authority of the Bible.
* The Virgin Birth and full Deity of Jesus Christ.
* The bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
* Christ’s Atoning, vicarious death for the sins of the world.
* The literal Second Coming of Christ.
The church is the bride of Christ, to which should be her allegiance. It is not a party place or a social center for bringing in numbers, as if it is a business. “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.” Ephesians 4:14
The purpose of the church:
“They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Acts 2:42
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Reader Count & Comments
02 Nov 2017
This is an edifying and timely article.
I agree that churches must not make adjustments or compromise the truth of God's Word to attract people or appear to be less rigid, modern and progressive.
The gospel facilitates salvation. The Apostle Paul said he was not ashamed of it. It is the power of God unto salvation.
And yes we preach this gospel not only in word but also by our lifestyle.
Many Blessing Jeff!
01 Nov 2017
One great means to draw others to Christ is by being loving and tenderhearted. We accomplish this by being Christlike. So, if we want the world to come to church we must love like God loves, be compassionate and merciful, avoid being judgemental, never compromise godly principles, etc... In a word, remember you may be the only living-walking Bible that draws others to Christ.
01 Nov 2017
Very well written article. In sharing the Good News, we cannot sugar coat the gospel. The truth remains the truth, and we must share it as it is.
Many churches seem to be more concerned with the number of people attending church, rather than what is being read and preached.
It is not wrong to have social events on church property, but the church cannot move away from its responsibility, to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to its members. It must be read and preached as it appears om the Holy Bible, and should not be altered to align with man's wants and desires.
Keep up the writing for the Lord.
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