The First Place

“From time to time, I get notes from attendees thanking me for creating a church to which they can invite their neighbors and unchurched family members.  As appreciative as I am, it still strikes me as odd that someone would have to thank a pastor for creating a church that is doing the very thing the church was created to do in the first place.  Why should that be the exception and not the rule?  It’s a shame that so many churches are married to a designed-by-Christians-FOR-Christians-only culture.  A culture in which they TALK about the Great Commission, SING SONGS about the Great Commission, but REFUSE TO REORGANIZE their churches around the Great Commission.  These are often the same churches where members TALK about grace, sing about how ‘amazing’ it is, but create graceless cultures where only those who play by [their] rules feel welcome.  . . . Churches shouldn’t do anything that makes it unnecessarily difficult for people who are turning to God.”

–Andy Stanley, Deep and Wide

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3 thoughts on “The First Place

  1. Sounds reasonable; The only problem; It’s not bibilical ..i.e. The Worship and Minsistry of a true church should be to satisfy and glorify God, not those who are attending, believers or seekers. The great commission commands the church to ‘make disciples’ not converts and the so-called ‘seeker-friendly’ churches tend to be more emotional and experiental in nature and man-centered , rather than Theocentric(God-cenrered). The church is an equipping and sending place. The evangelism should come as a nuture outcome of ‘preaching the ‘whole counsel’ of God..God the Holy Spirit draws those who will be sensitive to the drawing of the Spirit toward faith, not ‘culturally relativent’ music and preached based upon ‘man’s’ needs , rather than man’s responsiblity to a Holy God…The fact that most cummunities with hundreds of so-called evangelical churches are having very ltttle or no influence on it’s member’s lifestyles or the community around them….The days of culture conforming to the church rather than church conforming to the culture are sadly quickly becoming a product of our post modern culture….Just thethoughts of a former product of the 60’s and the ‘ Jesus Freaks’ movement…

  2. rallen, I appreciate your feedback on Stanley’s quote. I think there is a stress going on in the American Church on this very issue. My only pushback with your comment is that I believe you might be creating a false dichotomy. You frame your concerns in a way as if to say it’s not possible to glorify God . . . while at the same time satisfying the needs of attenders–whether “believers or seekers.” This is–in my estimation–a false dichotomy. It is apparent through Scripture that God’s People can be moved and lost people impacted ALL AT THE VERY SAME TIME that God is being recognized, worshiped, and followed. Acts 2:36-47 should speak to this as far as its biblical roots for the Church.

    I think I understand the concern you have that is concerned that Scriptural reflection, pure worship, intensified discipleship, passionate ministry, etc. might get washed-out if the church only focuses on “man’s needs, rather than man’s responsibility to God.” But, once again, I think you’re creating too unrealistic of a dynamic as if to say that God fails to use man’s needs as a means to teach him of his responsibility to his maker. I would bet that you came to Christ when you felt you needed Him. If not, allow me to encourage you that that’s how most people do. I believe you unnecessarily create an either/or scenario instead of a both/and scenario for the Church . . . perhaps if only to protect the Church from becoming about entertaining the unredeemed people and not changing real lives. The Church isn’t supposed to be only about “seekers.” But, neither is it only to be about believers, either. It’s about both. Acts 1 and 2 prove this very truth by the opening moments of the life of the church.

  3. Pastor Moran: I certainly believe that the first preachers of the word(i.e. Peter at Pentecost) were very evangelistic, but all of the Pauline letters were addressed to the church or specific believers to be distributed to the churches. We deifinitely should preach the gospel in every service, but from my personal experience, I’ve found that I grew more as a Christian in my early stages by expository preaching(precept upon precept) and have come to see Christ in every single book of the bible and the early church was composed almost exclusively of believers who met in home churches and ministry as a full-time profession is in fact a product mostly early in the Caholic Church. Charles Spurgeon was once confronted by one of his churchmembers for none speaking more directly to ‘unbelivers’ in his sermons. His response,” My calling is to ‘equip the saints’, not entertain the goats’…This is where my confidence in the Holy Spirit are enough to guarantee that if a person has been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, he can be stirred by a message from any book of the bible, as the whole counsel of God unlimately points to Christ and therefore meets the prime need in all our lifes ‘To know Chirst and the power of his resurrection, and that as Romans states, for our minds(world view) be transformed by the Word.. I think we both agree with the primary mission of the church as an equipping center and if properly equipped, belivers shouldn’t need emotion or constant reminders that we are to be ‘salt and light’ to a lost and dying world. I thank you for your commitment to His Word and will be you and FBC-Evergreen on my weekly prayer ministry for your ministry/church..God Bless You in your new calling that is in probably one of the most critical areas for the evangelical church to make a real impact for Christ…

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