Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Put Out the Food and They Will Come
Of most importance in any church is the preaching of the Word. This is the food for which the soul longs. Unfortunately, there are a number of fellowships today that major in the minors in order to draw large crowds. On a recent broadcast of the White Horse Inn Podcast (Doctrine or Life July 3, 2011), Dr. Michael Horton and his co-hosts discussed interviews of various pastors and teachers at an evangelical gathering. A question was asked, "Which is more important - understanding biblical doctrine or following Jesus in the way we live?" An astounding 60% of those questioned felt that following Jesus in the way we live was more important than understanding biblical doctrine. I say astounding because without the foundation of God's Word how do we even know who Jesus is? Just following Jesus in the way we live can mean many things. We may think He is merely a good example or a great teacher without knowing His role in salvation and His identity as God in the flesh. Understanding biblical doctrine comes from the preaching of God's Word on a consistent basis. In my mind, it is the difference between eating a healthy meal every day or filling up on junk food. Both fill you up, but one clogs your arteries and the other nourishes your cells.
Secondly, church fellowships need to be welcoming. When visitors do come for the first time, do they feel at home? Do we reach out to them and ask them to return? I have been in churches out of town or on a trip where not a single person said hello or went out of their way to talk with me. Now that is sad! I went to church to join in community worship of God. However, I felt all alone in the middle of a crowd. This should never be the case in our home churches. If a variety of birds can all commune together peacefully around a bird feeder, don't you think that a group of people gathering in the house of the Lord could also be welcoming and loving? James writes about this at length in his letter (chapter 2:1-9). We are not to show partiality in our assemblies. We are to demonstrate love for our neighbor who comes to join us in fellowship. Why should anyone want to return to our church if the love of Christ is not abundantly displayed each and every time the doors are opened? We must remember that we are Christ's ambassadors to this world. When people see us, they should see Christ in us!
When both the preaching of the Word and a welcoming atmosphere are present in a church, people who are drawn by the Spirit of God will come. This does not mean we should not invite any and all to come with us on a day of worship. However, we don't need gimmicks to get them there. God's Word is the power to salvation (Romans 1:16-17) not worldly programs. God's plan is simple, and it works. I pray that each one of us can be an instrument used of God to share the Good News with others, invite them to attend our church and be welcoming ambassadors for Christ wherever we go. Remember the simple example of the bird feeder. When I fill it with food, the birds come. If we feed people the truth as found in the Gospel, they will come as well. Sound doctrine is the bedrock of our faith. Selah!
P.S. I would be remiss if I did not say how grateful I am that the Word of God is preached each week in my home church. I am thankful for our godly pastors.
I welcome your thoughts and insights here as well as words of encouragement. Please leave your comments.