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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Accommodating the Saved or Reaching the Lost?

Saved people do not like lost people that are not like them. The newly saved are expected to like what the established community of believers likes. They are expected to dress like the established church, like the same music, talk the same language and overlook the same sins. Those who will not comply with these "rules" are often left out of insider activities at the church.

Pastors are often faced with a dilemma: should the established congregation who finances the budget be accommodated with music, activities, sermons and programs they want or should saving the lost and making disciples of new believers be the priority in the church. The safe route is always to go with the ones with the money.

After all, the church would not exist without these established members. They have built the church. They have sacrificed their time to make sure their own children's programs were staffed. They sought a pastor who would pleasantly take them through their old age and do a bang-up funeral in the end. Surely, they have the right to expect these things they worked so hard for.

The best route is to demonize the activity of the people being reached. Call the music "Seven-Eleven" songs, say that the absence of a coat and tie is disrespectful and point out that Jesus didn't need screens to preach an effective gospel. This way accommodating really looks like a higher spiritual worship and those who agree with this are closer to God than those who would try to reach the lost.

If people are expected to clean up before they come to church, shouldn't they also clean up their lives before coming? Shouldn't they understand that this is the way church is done and if they really want to go to heaven they will have to learn to act like the people who have been in church for years? And make sure that you bring out the Leviticcal prohibition of tatoos but always leave out the sins of self-centered selfishness which requires that people go outside their comfort zone to reach others. Make sure that church is about making people comfortable.

The church that accommodates gets older and older. The members die off or just get so old that they can't make it to worship. Attendance continues to drop. The pastor of many years retires with a very few members left. His preaching falls mostly on wooden pews and wooden members because he is a wooden pastor.

Many people in church do not care if lost people get saved if they don't comply with the way things have always been done. They are truly perplexed why their church is dying. They are not willing to change anything even though the world has already changed around them.

So, is accommodating the saved really the safest position after all?

1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (ESV)
19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

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