Sheldon Todd Wilson
I have been trying for years to keep the local churches from compromising with the world. Now you are aiding the powers of compromise by spreading the misinformation of Rick Warren and his Madison Avenue gospel. There are a few important points unrelated to demographics and salesmanship that Mr. Warren has never learned, has forgotten, or does not believe, and they make all the difference.
1. The purpose of the local assembly is to worship God and edify the believers. The New Testament teaches this unequivocally. The unsaved have no business in a church meeting precisely because they will be just as lost figuratively as they are spiritually. The unbeliever cannot worship God because he is still at enmity with Him. He certainly cannot do so "in spirit and in truth," as Mr. Warren implies that he can. To teach otherwise in the face of plain New Testament teaching is deliberate heresy and presumption.
2. The mission of evangelism is never supposed to be carried out in the believer's church service. The church service is reserved for believers so that they can go back out into the world and properly do Christ's work, including evangelism. The practice of watering down the service to the satisfaction of the unbeliever is just one more demonic practice that allows Satan control over the local church.
3. If we persist in our compromise we may find that we have no part in the Kingdom. Jesus promised us not comfort but persecution. Yet we persist in seeking comfort. Jesus said that there were few that found the narrow entrance, yet we insist on trying to force the masses down the narrow path and through that gate. The church service, no less than salvation, must be on His term's not on man's.
Twice in history huge numbers of unbelievers have been settled in the pews of the church; first under Constantine and now in the Madison Avenue gospel of contemporary America. The first was the beginning of the compromised "Christianity" we know as the secular church, or Roman Catholicism. The second is what will eventuate in a compromised and secular Protestantism, or "democratic Catholicism."
We should not be seeking church growth in terms of numbers, but in terms of maturity. I believe that many ministers today are not equal to that challenge, and must keep their pulpit in other ways, including stroking the "seeker's" ego. We must remember that there will always be only a relative few Christians, and we need to acknowledge the fact and give them back their Sunday services.
Editor's Note: Growth-in numbers and in maturity-is not an either/or but a both/and. It should also asked: If church services are solely for those who have already come to faith in Christ Jesus, what place is there for those whom the Holy Spirit is in the process of drawing to the Lord?