In our church’s mission to LOVE GOD, LOVE OTHERS, and SERVE THE WORLD we consider the Sunday morning gathering as our LOVING GOD moment. We love Him everywhere, but, biblically, our worship and Bible study can’t go higher or be more powerful anywhere else. God designed this gathering as our mountain top. It’s where God speaks clearest to our church, where we lift His name highest in worship with other saved sinners, and where our unity proclaims to the world that we are His disciples.
With this view of our Sunday morning service being true, what about the lost? Should the entire service be focused on believers, or the lost? Should we preach and teach with every word geared for the greatest impact on the lost, even at the expense of depth of study and song? In short, on Sunday morning where is the balance between building up believers and evangelism?
9Marks is a fantastic ministry designed to help Christians build healthy churches, and to answer this question they direct us to 1 Corinthians 14. In that chapter, focused on church gatherings, we discover the important goal for our worship service. At its core, a church service is intended by God for the building up of the church. In other words, our primary concern, in all that we do on Sunday morning is to grow Christians. Sunday morning is intended to “equip the saints for work in ministry” (Eph. 4:12), “[p] reach the word... reprove, rebuke, and encourage” (2 Tim. 4:2), and we are compelled by God in our service to “strive to excel in building up the church” (1 Cor. 14:12). Trinity’s worship service is given to us by God for the primary purpose of building up Christians into the image of Christ. “What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up” (1 Cor. 14:26).
However, while we can’t sacrifice building up believers for the sake of evangelism, we should always recognize, pray for, and reach out to the lost in our services. Paul argues in 1 Cor. 14 that what we do in worship services to build up Christians should also be understandable to the lost. In all that we do on Sunday morning, if “an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you” (1 Corinthians 14:24-25). In other words, the goal is to build up the saints, discipling them with song and the whole council of the Word of God in language the lost can understand. In other words still, we avoid “Christianese,” a language only church people understand. The lost should see and hear our faith clearly and simply through our worship, fellowship, teaching, and preaching.
The good news is that what grows believers and what saves the lost is the same thing: the Gospel. The Gospel grows Christians. Christians never graduate from the Gospel. Jesus must be the center of every sermon, song, and fellowship. Preaching without Christ’s gospel is a powerless lecture. Singing without Gospel shaped hearts is soulless performance. Fellowship without Gospel love and long-suffering is cold country club membership. Therefore, when we focus on building up believers, God willing, we will also see people saved. Our invitation to the lost is not: “come and see what we’ve designed for you!” Rather, it’s: “come and see sinners saved by Christ!”
In Christ Pastor Jordan