To my surprise, the student I blogged about in my post titled, "David Beaten By Goliath...For Now" actually showed up this morning at my church for Sunday School. He was actually sitting in his car waiting on me! Now I know that I may sound a bit cynical, but if I had a nickel for every person that I invited to church that said that they were going to show up for church I would...(you know, be rich!)
Our Sunday School teach, Ralph Yantz, stayed on the subject matter, but turned it evangelistic for my student's purposes. I really appreciated that from him. David said that he really enjoyed Sunday School and we headed over to the main sanctuary.
I showed my student to a seat, introduced him to my mother and explained that I had to work in the sound booth this morning to advance the slide show for worship. He didn't seem to mind and settled in with his Bible as I walked over to the sound booth.
As the service began, my pastor asked everyone to come up to the front of the church to just come together and worship the Lord. I didn't think too much of this, but then looked over in the direction of my student and my worst nightmare was realized. My student was left standing by himself with no one in 10 feet of him. I could tell by his body language that he was uncomfortable. Halfway into the second worship song, my student walked towards the sound booth with his Bible and asked me if he could talk to me.
I told him that I couldn't talk right now because I had to pay attention to the slides. I asked him what was wrong and he said that he wasn't feeling well. I thought, "Yeah, right. He just feels uncomfortable because he didn't want to go up front." He stood there for a moment and then walked back over to the end of the row. He stood there for a moment and then sat down on the end seat. I was praying to God that he would not leave. That prayer was not answered.
My student came back over to me a few minutes later and said that he wasn't feeling good. I tried to direct him to the bathroom, but he said he wanted to leave. He said,"That's okay, isn't it?" I told him, "Of course it is !" He left and my mind began to race.
"Why was he leaving? Why did the pastor have to start the service that way? Doesn't he know that we might have visitors in the house and that calling everyone to the front might make them feel uncomfortable and out of place?"
The question: "Should church be for the Believer or for the non-Believer?" "Should we change our services to accommodate those in our church that are not Believers so that we do not offend them?"
The answer: At least my answer anyways...NO! The weekly assembly should not be about worshiping God, celebrating our freedom of living under grace and not the Law, the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the hope that we have in Christ. I'm sure I left something out, but you get the idea. I think this is an area where many churches go wrong. They begin to design church around the Unbeliever verses the Believer. Don't get me wrong, we should have an altar call for those that may come to church, but the overwhelming majority of the people that are in our churches on Sunday morning are Believers.
I know many so-called "Pentecostal" churches that frown upon speaking in tongues on Sunday mornings because they don't want to "scare away" the non-Believer. Preposterous! Take a look at what 1 Corinthians 14:22-25 says. Notice that if "...the church comes together and an outsider/unbeliever enters..." Are "outsiders" welcome? Of course! But should the church service be designed for the outsider? Of course not!
The key here is balance. At our church, we unabashedly, unashamedly lift up the name of Jesus Christ and worship Him in Spirit and in Truth regardless of any "visitors". Everything is done in order and is Biblical, of course. There is no holding back from what God has for the congregation at that time. On the other side, visitors are greeted, welcomed and my pastor always provides the opportunity for a "call to repentance" at the end of each service just in case there is someone amongst the assembly that has not repented and put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
Bottom line: We should not allow visitors to our church to hold us captive for the sake of being culturally relevant while possibly compromising authentic praise, worship, preaching, teaching or having the tendency to shy away from Biblically accurate signs and wonders.
I know that I kind of went off on a tangent there about who the church service should look to please (God or man?), but it was an issue that I had to sort out. Before I went off on this tangent I was talking about how my student had left. I guess there's no more to say on that subject.