More to the point, theologically, the Christian assembly is a fellowship of the redeemed. It is a manifestation, as well as an anticipation or foretaste, of the great assembly that Christ is buildingâ€”the assembly of the firstborn in heaven that will be revealed on the last Day (Heb 12:22-24). The purpose of our earthly assemblies, therefore, is to fellowship together in what we already shareâ€”our union with Christâ€”as we listen to and respond to him together, and build his assembly by the words we speak.
This runs counter to the common (although often unspoken) assumption that one of the main aims of a church gathering is to be attractive to non-Christiansâ€”to draw them in, to intrigue them, and to evangelize them.
This certainly flies in the face of much of the “church growth” movement that we’ve been seeing. It also, interestingly enough, flies in the face of much of the emerging church movement as well (but not nearly all of it, let’s be clear). So what is the church to do then?
That said, it is interesting to note that in 1 Corinthians 14 the presence of an unbeliever or untutored person is assumed, hence Paulâ€™s concern that what is said in church be intelligible to such a person. Further, 1 Corinthians 14 expects the gospel will be preached, for how else will an unbeliever be convicted of his sin and exclaim that God is truly among those gathered? But to preach the gospel does not mean that, every week, the sermon is targetted specifically and primarily at unbelievers. Surely, whenever we preach faithfully we are preaching the gospel!
So what does all this mean in practice? I donâ€™t think the answer is to â€˜dumb downâ€™ the teaching. It does mean explaining jargon words (apostle, grace, justification, faith etc) and seeking to be clear, but it does not mean we donâ€™t preach on the more complex passages of the Bible.
I’m not sure what the entirety of my opinion is on this one. It just stuck me as an important thing to consider.
hat tip to:Between Two Worlds