Rev. Dr. Richard L. Shaw, Pastor
The local church is to be, among other things, a worship center and a learning/training center. If every Christian congregation would take seriously its call to teach – a prominent New Testament emphasis – there would be fewer cults and heresies. Christian truth would have greater, richer soil in which to grow. We would have a holier, safer America, and a powerful Christian witness. What a thrill it would be to any Christian pastor to see his or her people learning the Christian doctrines, theology, history, the original languages of Scripture (Hebrew and Greek), and how to communicate these to others!
As to the worship aspect – even the learning is a form of worship. But worship as a corporate praise to God, hearing his Word, testifying of his grace, singing of his love and mercy, allowing unbelievers (pre-believers) to discover unsettling and life-changing truth – this is what every church needs to be and do. Mixing prebelievers and believers in the same gatherings means there is no “in crowd.” All are treated alike, as James admonishes (James 2:1‑4). The wise church allows the prebelievers to slide into the same rhythm and chemistry of the same event. While not pretending, or encouraging them, to think that they are all right with God without their own conversion experience, they can be encouraged to sing with us, pray with us, take communion with us, without giving them a false sense of salvation before they have been truly born again. But excluding others from any aspect of Christian worship is not the way to show the inclusiveness and power of God’s reconciling love.