Creating an Inviting Environment
Just stumbled across this paragraph, written by the Jollyblogger as he sumarizes Mark Driscoll. The question at hand is simple - how do we as Christians reconcile these two charges: on the one hand, we are to guard the faith entrusted to us (1 Tim 6:20, 2 Tim 1:14); on the other, we are to go and make disciples (Mt 28:19).
Mark Driscoll has a sermon where he talks about people who spend their lives contending for the faith without ever contextualizing the faith. These are people who are like pit bulls, always attentive to heresy and always ready to do battle against error. These people also often wish more nonbelievers would come to their church to hear the truth. Driscoll says nonbelievers don't come to the church for the same reason that people don't gravitate to homes that are guarded by a couple of pit bulls.I think he's on to something here. And I would add this - I think we need to love 'the lost' as much as we claim to love 'the truth'. In many cases, I suspect the real reason we love the truth is because we think we measure up to it, and so we see it as something that can build us up, that can buttress our own position. But I wonder how many times what we're really loving is just ourselves, and anything that makes us look better.
I believe that is a good illustration. This is not to say that homes (and churches) don't need to be guarded. But there are ways of guarding a house that are more discreet and that can give the house an inviting air of hominess, while still protecting the house and keeping it from looking like a fortress.
It seems to me that we could tone down the acrimony in the blogosphere and the church in general if polemicists would follow the example of the apostle Paul and devote the best of their spiritual and intellectual energies first on evangelism and church planting/building, and then let the polemics follow later.
If we really love the Truth (as in 'The Way, the Truth, and the Life'), then we will love what he does - and that means the lost. Passionately. Enough to think daringly about how we might go and build relationships with them, about the barriers we erect that keep them from coming.
What would it look like to create a church that genuinely loves and cares for unbelievers as much as it does for the truth? It's something worth pondering...