No one can ever tell me that early morning showers don't prove fruitful!
Last night I was having Thai food and pie kitchen with a friend of mine here in L-ville - and as always - one of the topics of conversation was church.
I have been in church my whole life. I was in a small church of 20-30 until 10th grade. Then moved to a huge church of about 2500. Then went to a church of about 400 that grew to 1700 by the time I left. Then was plugged into two churches during my time in NC, one of about 1700, and then one that was about 500 when I went there and grew to over 2000 (and is still growing). I moved to FL and went to a church that is steadily growing with currently over 500. Some of these churches did most things right, some of these church did a few things right. God used each of these churches, though, in my life for a specific period of time.
However, this morning, I was standing in my shower about 4am, and I wondered what the Bible had to say about going to church. Hebrews says "do not let yourselves forsake the gathering together of the brethren" - that's a KJV paraphrase probably. Basically - be plugged into a community of believers: both to get, and to give.
The church worship service is not for unbelievers. At least that is my limited understanding. It is for the building up of believers by the preaching of the Word and the exaltation of the Risen Christ. I think that "what if I go to a church that isn't appealing to unbelievers." Churches seem to be trying so hard to look like the world to appeal to the world - but that isn't what needs to happen. Yes, we need to be welcoming to unbelievers, but not seek to make our church services look like the world so they might come. Church isn't going to be appealing to unbelievers unless the Spirit is already working in their heart. They just aren't - in and of themselves - going to wake up one Sunday morning, and in their sinful hearts, say "I wanna go sing about Jesus". What the church needs to do is:
1. Worship Jesus. That includes everything: music, preaching, teaching, prayer, ordinances, giving, etc. If I'm forgetting anything that is biblical for a fellowship of believers to do - insert here.
2. Strengthen the community of believers by the expository teaching of the Word - both in worship services and in small group settings. Strengthen the families within the church. Two blogs I know about who are helping in this are Lasting Divergence and Two Institutions.
3. Engage the lost during the week, in the community, in their cities, around the world. Some churches do this very well (H4D) and frankly, some churches don't do this very well.
4. The gospel needs to be preached. Not solely "you need Jesus" which is sometimes all that gets said, but actually - you are a sinner, you can't come to Christ by yourself, you need Jesus, you need grace, you need the cross." DONE not DO.
If you want more information on different church models that are out there right now, you can go here to learn some about multi-site movement, here about Sov Grace churches, the Acts 29 Network.
So, these helped me clarify some things morning. God is good - will answer in His time!