very once in a while, someone says something that makes me want to smack them. This time, I was not in attendance at the event that created the smack-worthy moment. That was a good thing, as smacking a church leader in the Fellowship Hall is probably not appropriate.
From what I was told, the teaching was on the Great Commission. This is a theme text in our church this year, coming from Matthew 28. At the time, the lesson was focused on making new disciples, and particularly bringing them to Christ. Note that I said “bringing them to Christ“. It sets up the smack.
Our Bible studies are not loose, but questions are encouraged, and discussions may branch off from them. As related to me, the discussion moved to bringing people to Christ. A member noted that it was not important to bring the person to your church, but to bring them to a relationship with Jesus. Her point was sound and valid. The Great Commission instructs us to go out into all of the world and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. As we can see throughout the rest of the New Testament, groups of believers came together where they were as the Apostles and other disciples moved throughout the known world spreading the word of God.
Seems reasonable enough that we take it to be our job to tell people about Christ and lead them to a relationship with Him, right? Yet a church LEADER stood up to, in his words, “not give place to the enemy”. He felt a need to correct the member. According to him, our goal should be to bring the person to Christ and get them to join our church. What horrified me as I heard this story was that other leaders agreed with him! SMACK!
Because we have become so focused on membership numbers, the size of the offering for the week, the need for additional parking and an overflowing choir stand, we have forgotten exactly why we come together on Sundays and come to learn more on Wednesday. Sunday is for believers, giving them time to worship, fellowship and hear the Word of God preached. Bible Study during the week is for the same believers and the new or prospective Christians to come and learn more about the tenets, requirements, and direction of the Bible. Both experiences give us the opportunity to get revved up for what we are expected to do – go out and make disciples of all people, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost!
Nothing in our commissioning requires us to sit in the same place of worship as the new believer. We may (should) help to direct them to a Bible believing church in their area. If I am traveling in New Orleans, I cannot tell the person that they need to move everything to the DC area. If I am in SE DC, it does not make sense to tell a new believer to bypass a church right near her home to travel to NW twice a week to attend my church. Because we have been in contact and fellowship with other churches in our area, I can actually recommend a few places in the DMV.
But suppose I could not make a recommendation? I do not live in Tucson, Arizona, but I would love to have made a disciple there. Where would I send them to church? I do not know! So we would pray, JUST AS WE WOULD ANYWHERE ELSE that the person will be directed by the Lord to the best church for them. That is all I can do. It is on God after that. He always comes through. When I am at home, I will invite the person to my church if they live in that area. If not, I will suggest a church in their area, if I know of one. If they ask where I go to services, I will be delighted!
Follow the words of Christ: Go out in all the world and make disciples! Teach them what you know. Stay in touch. Trust God in all of it.