So yesterday I wrote about why we should go to church which came about because of a book entitled I Sold My Soul on eBay by Hemant Mehat. Last night as I was getting ready to head to work I decided to check my email – there in my in-box was an email from Mr. Mehat.

Ummm…okay, that was unexpected. He was very polite and cordial and brought up an interesting aspect of the Christian culture. His point was that while church may only be for Christians many churches place an emphasis on building their numbers.

I fully agree with Hemant on that point. There seems to be an interesting shift within our culture that says church is the place you bring people if they are going to be saved. I really struggle with that definition and don’t think that is what God had in mind when he formed the church.

If we look at Matthew 28:19-20, often called the Great Commission, we see what we are to be about as people of God.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

We learn some very interesting things from this verse. The first thing that we need to point out is that the primary verb of these verses is not “go.” This verse is often quoted in regards to missionary work with an emphasis placed on going out into all the world. But that’s not what this verse is about; certainly there are some who, like Paul and Barnabas, are called to travel to other lands for the promotion of the gospel. The true emphasis of this verse is “make disciples.”

When it comes to the process of making disciples we see that there are two things listed: baptism and teaching. Baptism is an outward confession of what God has done in a person’s life; it is a step of obedience. Teaching of course is the instruction in the things of God. This is a lifelong process which we will never fully accomplish. We should not be discouraged by that fact, rather just accept it and continue in the process.

So the mission of the church is two-fold, evangelism and discipleship. My opinion, and I think the Scriptures seem to teach this, is that church is a time for discipleship. We come together to worship and learn; I almost get the impression that when a non believer comes to a service they are evaluating the church as if it were a country club. Hopefully I’m wrong, but that is really the impression I’m getting.

Please hear my heart, if we invite a friend to join us on Sunday morning I hope that they hear the truth and that it changes their life, but as a pastor (soon hopefully!) I have to wonder where the best part of my study time should be. Should I prepare all of my messages for the non believer or those of the faith? For me I prepare for the Christians in the congregation, but always try to leave room for the Holy Spirits prompting during the preaching.

There of course are churches out there who say that their focus is primarily on reaching out to unbelievers, which is fine. People in our culture have come to expect this and so those churches are trying to meet that expectation. For me that goes against my understanding of what the church is to be about.

I have really enjoyed my conversation with Hemant and he does a wonderful job of getting Christians to actually think about our faith, something so many of us fail to do some times. We need to evaluate our presentation of the gospel and the way our services are run. There is always room for improvement and hopefully we can continue to find ways of encouraging Christians while at the same time not pushing away the unbelievers.

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