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Monday, March 28, 2011

Where is the line between outreach and worship?

Several conversations over the past week have all ended up in the same concept: should Christians, and the church as a whole, strive to meet people halfway for the sake of outreach and conversion? The answer, I think, is no. 

This is not to say that the church should not engage in outreach, only that it should not confuse outreach and worship. In worship, the function of the church is to bring like-minded believers together. Outreach is an attempt to reach the people with what they need in order to bring them into the fold. If the line between outreach and worship is blurred, the things that originally brought those like-minded believers together - such as the traditional liturgy and closed communion - begin to be compromised. And though you may be reaching more people and bringing them in to your church, you are bringing them into a watered-down fold that has compromised its core principles. In effect, you can be losing your church even as you grow it.

So I ask myself what Martin Luther himself would say. And I find it difficult to believe that he would support the compromise of the worship service or of the sacrament for the sake of conversion(s). Why? Because conversion is the work of God, not man. If a man is going to be brought to Christ, but only if we are willing to change the way we worship, then how real can his conversion be? 

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