The Missional Church: An Attempt to Combine the Great Commission with Unbiblical Ideas
There are very disturbing ideas being promulgated in these modern times regarding the Church of Jesus Christ. It is being done not only by those on the proverbial religious fringe, but within mainstream protestant denominations; and not only that but by highly popular, and very public, so-called ‘new calvinists’ preachers and conference speakers.
I say disturbing, because those who are making such ideas popular seem to have a faulty understanding of the nature of the Church itself. That is not only disturbing – given their influence on the young, reformed and restless – but also dangerous. Dangerous because false. When it comes to Biblical truth and the proclamation thereof, false is bad.
Missional. It is quite the buzzword these days. It is popular among ‘the reformed’. In fact, it is beyond popular, it is almost considered biblically necessary. From Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll and a hosts of SBC wanna-be’s to the Gospel Coalition, being missional is all the rage. It is also unbiblical, as presented, and I have no hesitation in saying so. In fact, I must say so, because those with whom influence rests are silent or participatory in it. They dare not risk their glorious theological careers.
For example, Tim Keller, from his recent lecture “Contextual and Missional” at Urban Plant Life Conference in London, spoke regarding the nature of a missional church – please read this quote carefully:
A missional church gears absolutely every single part of its life–its worship, community, public discourse and preaching education–for the presence of non-believers from the culture surrounding it. A missional church’s congregation reflects the demographic make-up of the surrounding community–and therefore it gives non-Christian neighbors attractive and challenging glimpses of what they would look like as Christians. A missional church’s worship is ‘evangelistic’ in the sense that it makes sense to non-believers in that culture, even while it challenges and shapes people with the gospel. A missional church’s people are outwardly focused, so involved in the local community, and so alert for every opportunity to point people toward Christ, that evangelism happens naturally through relationships. Because of the attractiveness of its community, the contextual nature of its message, and humility of its people, a missional church will discover significant numbers of people always in the midst, ‘incubating’ and exploring Christianity. It must welcome them in hundreds of ways. It will do little to make them ‘comfortable’ but will do everything to make its gospel message understandable.
Wait a minute:
1) “A missional church gears absolutely every single part of its life–its worship, community, public discourse and preaching education–for the presence of non-believers from the culture surrounding it.”
First of all, the very phrase ‘a missional church’ clearly implies the existence of a non-missional one. Just so we are clear on this foundational truth, there is no such thing as a non-missional body of Christ. There is one Church, and it is missional. Any other ‘church’ or local fellowship who is not biblically missional is a false fellowship.
Secondly, the body of Christ, that is, a local fellowship made of believers, has never, is never, and will never be “for the presence of non-believers from the culture surrounding it.” Not in, as he says above, “every single part of its life–its worship, community, public discourse and preaching education–for the presence of non-believers from the culture surrounding it.” This is beyond biblical reasoning. Where in all of Scripture are we told that the church worship service is for the presence of unbelievers in any sense? Don’t misunderstand me here, we are to work within the mandate of the Great Commission, but we are never given instruction, by command or precept, to exist for the presence of unbelievers within our worship services. Never. And “public discourse and preaching education” within the confines of the local fellowship is strictly for the equipping of the saints and the humbling of the same.
In a word, the meetings, the fellowshipping of the body of Christ is for the equipping of the saints, not the benefit of present unbelievers within a worship service.
2) ”A missional church’s congregation reflects the demographic make-up of the surrounding community–and therefore it gives non-Christian neighbors attractive and challenging glimpses of what they would look like as Christians.”
This is confounding.
How is a non-believer “attracted” in any way to the life of a believer when they are dead in their sins and have no concept whatsoever of what the Gospel requires, and demands?
3) A missional church’s worship is ‘evangelistic’ in the sense that it makes sense to non-believers in that culture, even while it challenges and shapes people with the gospel.
No, not at all.
A true fellowship of local believers is for the teaching and training of believers, not unbelievers. Absurd. The Church is for Christians only. NOTHING makes sense to an unbeliever regarding the Gospel, they are DEAD! They cannot understand anything, regardless of education. What was Tim thinking when he said this?
4) A missional church’s people are outwardly focused, so involved in the local community, and so alert for every opportunity to point people toward Christ, that evangelism happens naturally through relationships.
No! The truly missional church, namely, the only true body of Christ meeting locally, is focused outwardly only in the execution of the great Commission; the Church is focused inwardly as individuals and corporately on the grace and mercy shown them, on holiness, on sanctification, on the mortification of sins in their lives. They themselves are not outwardly focused, but they are inwardly focused, or better, they are upwardly focused on the grace and mercy shown them, and that is what their lives will reveal.
5) Because of the attractiveness of its community, the contextual nature of its message, and humility of its people, a missional church will discover significant numbers of people always in the midst, ‘incubating’ and exploring Christianity. It must welcome them in hundreds of ways.
The true Church of Christ is never attractive to unregenerates. That may make a large worldly clubhouse of false believers, but it is not the church of Jesus Christ.
By the way, in closing, if a local fellowships find “significant numbers of people always in their midst, “incubating and exploring Christianity” they are most likely lost people and they are NOT the Church; and as far as welcoming them in “hundreds of ways”…be ashamed Tim Keller, and Mark Driscoll, and all you SBC wanna-be celebrity hero’s of the world. The Church is for believers.
The problem is that those pushing ‘the missional church’ are presenting a reformed version of a ‘seeker-sensitive’ church, and that results in unregenerate memberships among other things. May this view be corrected.
Tim Keller – Prayer Ropes, Meditation & Lectio Divina
Piper & Sailhamer: The Offense of Biblical Creation & The False Authority of Science
Are Tim Keller & John Piper Even Christian?
Pingback: Tweets that mention The Missional Church: An Attempt to Combine the Great Commission with Unbiblical Ideas « 5 Pt. Salt -- Topsy.com
Amen Joel. You are dead on. I too have been disturbed by the unbiblical understanding of what it truly is to be a missional church. It amazes me how quickly the church loves to ride the latest buzzword and lose focus on the Biblical mandate for the Church. Thanks for posting this – it’s much needed today.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Except the young earth position. That is disputed by even the most sound Christian apologists. It could be, but probably not.
The other stuff is disturbing.
Pingback: Soli Deo Gloria - The Theological Blog of Jay C. Wingard
I kind of agree with half of this (well most of it, I think you are Reformed, I am not). Were I have a point of contention is if a church is “doing it right” in should THEN be outgoing in sharing the gospel.
Your basic point of church is for believers and it should not to bend its truth for unbelievers is a true one. But churches have a tendency to become so inward and cliquish they don’t reach out at all into their communities. The Missional approach is flawed, but seeks to correct another even older one, apathy.
I have been in the midst of a church that viewed things the way Keller presents them. Any church that holds to this creature-focused view has lost its focus of Christ and will end up fawning over the creature rather than honoring the Lord by being obedient to what He was declared in Scripture.
In myriad ways, Tim Keller is revealing himself to be on the path to apostasy.
Tim Keller is not on the path to apostasy. There is no way you could read his books and listen to his messages and not sense a love for Jesus and desire to have God be first.
Let’s not throw around heresy claims.
Does it not bother you that Tim Keller promotes contemplative mysticism and the authors who are pushing this Roman Catholic practice within protestant denominations? or, were you aware of this?
Do not ignore what Keller teaches and does – test everything. You may like Keller, but he is indeed on the path to apostasy. Read this for more, per admin’s note.
I was searching for that very link 😉
I live in NYC, so I’m fairly aware of the cultural practices of churches. The question is how you practice contemplative prayer & whether it’s wrong simply because Catholics do it and instituted it.
As far as I am aware, the “mysticism” promoted by Keller is simple contemplation on the Holy Scriptures. Baptists would call it praying through using the scriptures.
Brother, I would encourage you to examine further Keller’s practice of mysticism and contemplative prayer. Seriously, it is far, far more than what you have described. Start here:
Instead of defending it, I’d love to ask you a question.
What do you see as inherently wrong in that link specifically? And what scriptures would you use to combat it?
Matthew 28:19, 20. In a nutshell it says go (or better, as you are going) make disciples. It never says invite unbelievers to your worship gatherings and hope they will be ‘shaped’ by what they see! They must be regenerated. The Church is for worship, and both are for believers only. It is exclusive.
Also, in Ephesians 4, the Lord tells us who He gave to the church and for what purpose – “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”
Keller and others who want to embrace the cult of Rome are what we are warned about in the end of that passage.
Please explain what’s wrong with lectio devina & contemplative prayer?
Simple. It’s not biblical. It is Roman Catholic, and Roman Catholicism is not Christianity. Never has been, never will be.
Lectio Divina is a way of praying with Scripture that calls one to study, ponder, listen and, finally, pray and even sing and rejoice from God’s Word, within the soul.
I don’t see the error in practicing the above. Is it a little mystical, which seems weird, yes, but not sinful.
Roman Catholicism was all there was for a long time. We can’t throw out everything the church practiced just because much of it was flawed. Redeem what is worth redeeming without compromising truth and the gospel.
If lectio divina helps people know God’s Word, become more prayerful, and leads them to follow God more with their lives, I would have a hard time telling people to stop.
Seems similar to the popular ACTS prayer method that is used to teach people how to pray. It’s another way to develop prayer warriors.
There is danger in a variety of practices. Being saved is believing Jesus Christ is Lord. My salvation is not dependent on knowing or not knowing various church practices or works.
Salvation is by faith alone through grace alone. Please don’t play salvation police based on comments. Would you prefer I share my testimony before I comment?
I’m not arguing for Lectio Divina, I’m asking what is inherently wrong with the idea, not what is wrong with the Roman Catholic practice of it. Roman Catholics have destroyed prayer by making it praying to saints, but I still pray, just not to saints.
Let’s take a step back and realize that by name calling and attacking people we take our eyes off the aim of the church: The gospel saving people.
I’m wishing I wouldn’t have defended Keller, because my main hope was to dialogue about my response at the bottom of these comments. Can we return to those and agree to disagree on Keller?
“There is a way that seems right to man, but he end is the way of death.” This is why we must not take our eyes off our example and Lord, Jesus Christ. Jesus gave us a clear example of prayer, and it did not include 20-minue mantras of repetitive words or phrases That is the type of “contemplative” prayer taught by Tim Keller and others within the Acts 29 network and others in the “missional” movement. When our minds are cluttered with such meaningless repetition, how can we be focused on the voice of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit? Prayer and biblical meditation are designed to quiet our hearts and minds to hear the voice of God–not some word or phrase that we have predetermined for ourselves. “Trust in the Lord with all your and lean NOT on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and HE will direct your path [and prayers]. The church focus and “contemplateive” prayer teachings of the missional church movement have taken all focus OFF GOD and placed it on on human beings. Jesus warned that we cannot serve two masters. The missional church has removed Jesus as Lord by decided to focus on man instead.
If you have to ask what’s wrong with those two pagan practices, you give clear indication you know not the narrow way of Christ.
You can read about the dangers of these practices many places; but since you appear not to know how to research these things, here are a few:
Click to access Contemplative_Prayer.pdf
Unfortunately,the one megachurch in my town is described in this post.What’s worse is the fact that I am currently looking for a home church but a lot of the churches in this area are seeking to model their activities after this one church.It is very difficult to find the true gospel and people that believe it and live it.
Perhaps one of these sites would be helpful in finding a solid church. Mega-churches tend to be more corporate in the worldly sense, but smaller churches are not free of pitfalls. Biblical pastors in churches need the prayerful support of the people they lead.
Robert, not to sound self serving or anything, but I just had to jump in here and let you know there is a new church plant in Lake Forest (I was assuming you lived in the Saddleback area?) We meet in La Madera Elementary School right across the street from El Toro High School. Here’s our churches website, come check us out:
You can also listen to the sermons at our site so you can get an idea of our ministry.
Blessings to you and your search for a solid Biblical church.
Right again. Please keep articles about this movement coming.
Thank you Manfred. I have been diligently searching,but perhaps these links will prove fruitful.
Why would you think soenthimg like that is hilarious? I wrote it and I don’t think it’s funny.
I think your critiques are good in that the “missional church” can focus so outwardly that it doesn’t care well for those inside the church already. At the same time, judging & critiquing off of one quote is easy, but taking a broad scope to gauge a better understanding would likely be beneficial. I’d recommend looking into Soma Communities, Total Church by Steve Timmis & Tim Chester & some others so that missional church is not judged by Mark Driscoll & Tim Keller.
At the same time, I think you have a very narrow view of church if it only exists for those inside the church.
1) “the fellowshipping of the body of Christ is for the equipping of the saints, not the benefit of present unbelievers within a worship service.” It’s to equip the saints to go make disciples of Jesus. If church programs only train them to care for those inside the church, you’ve cut out the evangelist altogether. In regards to who the saints are, yes, people are dead, but God has this crazy habit of bringing life to people through the proclamation of the gospel in different contexts & we don’t know who the saints are until the gospel is proclaimed.
If we approach church, small group, worship etc. with a mind to proclaim the gospel, then we are following Jesus and Paul’s lead in engaging all people with the gospel.
2) It seems to me when I read about Jesus’ life that people were attracted to him that were sinners & gluttons, Paul attracts & goes to crowds as he is proclaiming his message. The early church was living in a way that was adding people to their number daily. Seems that though dead in sins, seeing the gospel lived out in community is a means by which God begins to open the eyes of unbelievers.
3) I don’t know what exactly Tim meant, but he may have meant that you wouldn’t bring a rock concert to a community that loves a symphony or you wouldn’t bring contemporary music to a culture that loves gospel or tejano music. The music itself would connect with the culture, making the gospel easier to hear.
4) I think you have an appropriate critique here, but I wouldn’t swing the pendulum too far the other way. The gospel saves and gathers people into community and then sends people out on mission into the world. Without an upward, inward, & outward face, the gospel is misunderstood.
Jesus speaks repeatedly about the gospel driving us to care for the poor and marginalized, those who don’t follow Christ, and one another. Same with Paul, James, etc. The gospel of Jesus Christ demands a community presence.
5) Depravity involves blind and dead men, but God uses His people to bring the message of Jesus Christ which is his power to save people. God draws men to Himself with the message and mercy of Jesus Christ. There is no way around this.
The missional church should be critiqued if it also swings the pendulum and providing pushback is healthy as we seek unity in the body of Christ, but we must also be willing to listen and discern from scripture the church that represents Jesus to the world and be willing to change when necessary.
Logan, if people are blind and dead in depravity then playing a certain type of music isn’t going to soften them up. Only the Gospel and exegetical preaching will bring them to life by the GRACE of God.
As far as some of these new age practices that you are trying to use in the church, my advice would be to go to Warren Smith’s website or Ray Yungen. They are people who have come out of these new age practices and are very wise to where they lead.
Also, check out the website, Ponderings from Patmos. She has some valuable information about combining Christianity and New Age, like what is being done at Rick Warren’s church. Very dangerous and the thousands of his church goers are falling for it. Be sure and check it out. It is so much more insidious when taught by so-called Christians.
Let the ministers, who have set themselves up as idols, and because of their popularity people think they are always correct, come under the scrutiny of the Word of God.
Hope this helps.
Great post, and thanks. Last year I had a disturbing conversation with a friend of mine who was graduating from Covenant Theological Seminary. it bothered me the way he kept using words like “community” and “redemptive” in completely unbiblical ways. When I complained about the “seeker sensitive” direction the SBC has gone, he didn’t seem to see a problem with it. Indeed, he told me that the PCA has its own version of Rick Warren, a pastor named Tim Keller. He obviously holds Keller in high esteem. I have learned a lot since then. I am sorry to see the PCA following the broad path.
The issue of corrupt contemplative practices is easily solved by the fact that Jesus never taught or practiced them.
It’s also a fact that they were not taught or practiced by His Apostles, which is why you cannot find them in Scripture.
And if one actually holds to Reformation theology they would know these neo-Gnostic “disciplines” violate the proper Biblical spirituality of sola Scriptura.
I think you nailed it when you said, “And if one actually holds to Reformation theology they would know these neo-Gnostic “disciplines” violate the proper Biblical spirituality of sola Scriptura.”
Currently, it really matters not to people what they believe (reference to Barna and FOTF poll results). “Christians” behave exactly like non-Christians. These “Christians” are only sensitive to being a part of some social group. If this social group is neo-Reformed, Emergent, Baptist, … who cares? They are not a part of the group for what it believes. They are part of the group for what they get from it.
Many who call themselves Christian today are fooled. The only way God has provided for salvation is Jesus. Every preacher in the Bible preached repentence. They did not preach intellectual ascent to a concept of God or Jesus is my homeboy…and etc.
Post-moderns will not accept God’s truth unless they get saved. They will not get saved unless they hear God’s truth. Thankfully, God is still in control.
Preach God’s word.
Pingback: The Missional Church: An Attempt to Combine the Great Commission with Unbiblical Ideas (via 5 Pt. Salt) « Narrow is the Path
What ISN’T many, many of the Reformed folks falling for these days. Thanks to Keller and Company, it’s a thing to behold, seeing Reformed web sites turning mystic/contemplative in nature. Just today, took off another Reformed site link that has started quoting the mystics. So right when you say, …”those with whom influence rests are silent or participatory in it. They dare not risk their glorious theological careers.” The Good Ol’ Boys Club, from the top- down. Nobody’s going to say one word (at least go too far) and will scratch each others backs, cover for each other. A shame. People should really rise up and take notice of that and start asking some questions. Missional? Yes, I hope people will understand that it’s just another name for emergent. Why if I didn’t know better, I’d think Keller got this speech right from the pages of none other than UN Agenda 21, same place as Warren gets his stuff. Based on this speech, not sure what Christ Keller’s talking about, looks, sounds like ‘another’. Thanks for this, Joel.
Let’s talk about non-believers. How have you engaged with non-believers outside of a Sunday service? I’m just curious what ways, methods, or types of evangelism you use and encourage others to use.
Obviously, you disagree with the word missional as it is used by Keller & Driscoll, so I’ll ask for practicals. What happened the last time you ministered to a non-believer?
Has anyone considered the influence of and connections to the Leadership Network when one notices the prevalence of “missional” speak, “community” talk, “for the city” language? As someone said on another site, it is easier to preach these concepts over the offense of the gospel. These concepts, cloaked in Christian sounding language “tickle itching ears” and draw crowds. And that is the goal in a mega church.
JT and friends,
I saw Tim Keller on MSNBC’s Morning Joe show last week and he said something very telling about where he stands spiritually. He said that people in NYC are thoroughly post-modern and they will not listen to a sermon about sin being defined as missing the mark established by God. He instead tells them that they are idolatrous because they do not give God proper honor and worship.
Once a person capitulates to post-modernism by adjusting God’s message, he/she is on a slippery slope to apostacy. Keller himself may be saved but he is doing some crazy things in God’s name including this and the RC type of meditation.
Sliding into apostacy in order to keep large numbers attending your church does not impress God. God is not mocked…
The missional concept sometimes means doing stuff instead of wrestling over delivering God’s truth to the world. The true Body of Christ is missional along with being doctrinal, scriptural, and so forth. Do not sell out to the flesh. Stay true to the Bible.
Good post, Bob, sainyg exactly some of the things I’ve been thinking/sainyg about the EC for some time. Praying for you, buddy!
I know of Tim Keller and have read two of his books.
In print, he sounds great but if he is having second thoughts and is seeking comfort elsewhere other than in the scriptures, I do not care if he has written a thousand books and has given his eyes to charity and donated his kidneys to medical science…he is wrong and he needs to be gently corrected in his error of trying to sound hip and cool to attract people.
Jesus never sounded hip and cool to his generation in order to get people to listen to his message….matter of fact, some disciples said….this is too hard of a messsage, who can bear it!…and they no longer followed him.
Apostasy can come in three flavors: weak, mild and strong. All three can kill you.
Tim may be a great guy but if he is dabbling where the sign says…NO FISHING…he needs to pull out his line and leave the pond…regardless how how good the fish are biting.
People…quit making excuses for people who go off on a tangent. If and when you see biblical error, correct it and bookmark it. No need to use a hammer when a light tap will do the same job.
In some cases, you need to publicly confront the error so that others will not be mislead…Other times, it may be a gentle talk over hot coco to point out error that can leaven itself.
Tim needs to speak to unbelievers and use the sin word
and being born again. Do not kow-tow to their “sensitivities” for fear of alienating them. They already are alienated!
Can we get back to the conversation on missional church & what the church should be? The bashing of men seems counterintuitive to the conversation.
Joel, you are absolutely right on all of this. Great post.
Grace and peace to you.
I know this risks a fight, but I’d be curious on your thoughts about Keller’s article “Understanding Sin”
I’ve not read it myself, and it may be excellent, however, that is moving away from the issue at hand; what is the ‘missional’ understanding of the Church in it’s relationship to unbelievers regarding the Great Commission? And..no fighting here 🙂
Pingback: 5 Reasons To Be Cautious with Tim Keller’s Theology (via 5 Pt. Salt) « The Cross Is All
Many who call themselves reformed today are fooling themselves.Their ministry methods prove otherwise.
Let me say it another way. They say they believe the Doctrines of Grace ,but their real beliefs come out in
the books and articles they write and the people they choose to associate themselves with.
Your comments are exactly right Joel.Thank you for telling the truth. The missional movement is none other than seeker-sensitive in a new package. One liberal emergent blogger,pastor,author actually uses the terms missional and emergent synonymously.Their definition of missional is not biblical.By being missional they are actually just improving or adjusting the Gospel message to post-moderns.
Biblical Soteriology never leads to an adjusted Gospel.
When it comes to the term “missional” and the leaders who are associating themselves with this movement we must use great discernment.Oh, one more point concerning missional leaders.Pay close attention to the men they are following particularly in the footnotes of their books and articles they write.You may be surprised what you find when you check the beliefs of these persons.
I also believe that much of the missional movement’s theology is not biblical and will ultimately do more harm than good.Pray for discernment in the Church!!
“But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil”.(1 Thess.5:21,22)
SOLI DEO GLORIA
Amen and amen, Joel, as a “former” Roman Catholic, saved 26 years ago, and just as former New Agers are concerned about New Age teachings infiltrating the “evangelical” church, I also became extremely concerned about Catholic practices seeping into the church, especially in the early 90s when Warren’s PDL came out, after reading the book I knew my concerns were well founded, then came Passion of the Christ in 2004, even my seminary friends could NOT understand my concern about the evangelical excitement over this Tridentine Catholic movie, the “missional” church is a covert infiltration of Roman Catholic mysticism being promoted by “professing” Christians, I urge any doubters to study the Catholic Mystic Fathers (& Mothers, ie Nuns), they practiced “The Presence” of “God” by emptying the mind, repetitive mantra prayers (including the rosary to Mary), focusing on icons and candles, levitation, automatic writing, astral projection, altered states of consciousness, labyrinth prayer walking to “manifest” the Presence, I could go on but I think you get the picture!, what may seem to some as being nit-picking and intolerant is actually the very thing Scripture warns about would happen in the last days of the end times, ie doctrines of demons, leading to a one world church with Roman Catholicism at its core, for years I have warned my fellow believers of what is currently taking place and yes, many scoffed but not anymore!!!!!!the wolves in sheep’s clothing are among us.
Because of Christ, Addie K. Miller
Please tell me how this is any different than what the seeker mega’s like Saddleback, etc believe and teach?
If I were an unbeliever and I read this article I would want nothing to do with your Jesus or church. What if you found out that Jesus himself would have considered himself “missional”? Would you still think it so wrong? I am a disciple of Jesus who shares life with many unsaved so I can show them what Jesus looks like and how the gospel can save them. You make the church to be some selfish, people-hating club… No wonder our culture hates the church like it does…Christians with your mindset are the reason why. Please read the gospels for yourself and look for the heart of the gospel and I am sure you would find it to be very missional.
Dustin, I agree with your insight here. If believers do not go into the communities they are in and develop relationships with non-believers so that there is a comfort zone for non-believers to ask questions and explore Christianity there is little opportunity to testify our belief and invite non-believers in. It goes back to the sower- how does one accomplish this if they don’t leave their Christian comfort zone and show through actions, serving, and caring for others? How then do we shine with the light of God? John 15:12 states, “Love one another as I have loved you” it doesn’t say love only Christians – How did Jesus love? Through serving and teaching everyone – the unclean, the tax collectors, the heathen, and the good as well as those who already believed. He didn’t serve only those who believed and if we only serve one another who already believe we will not be disciples to all nations.
In 1 Corinthians 14, particularly in verse 23, the Apostle Paul speaks of a situation where unbelievers would be present in time of corporate worship. While church membership is for believers only, we recognize that there will be unbelievers in our worship services. What Keller is saying is that we should explain things and make them clear so that the unbeliever in our worship services might hear, understand, and believe the Gospel by the power of God’s Spirit.
Also, when it comes to shaping the life of our church, Jesus taught that the way that the church conducts its life together would have an evangelistic force. “The world will know you are my disciples if you love one another.” That certainly sounds like unbelievers see the way that Christians love each other and it causes them to take note.
Unbelievers are dead in their sins, yet God uses means to awaken them to their condition and for their need of Christ. This happens through the corporate life of the church and the clear preaching of the Gospel.
Of course, that’s not what Keller is saying however.
I don’t understand any practical application in what this article is saying. In your church, if you find a non-believer, do you kick them out? (Or do you just make everything so confusing and foreign to them that they feel unwelcome and leave?)
I think Tim Keller is promoting meeting people where they are, like Jesus did.
Let non-believers be welcomed into God’s presence so they can meet Him. If the one and only way non-believers are “allowed” to hear the gospel is from evangelists and missionaries, how are you sure it’s not human power? 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
Even Jewish temples had a court where Gentiles could come to meet God, and Jesus preached in many places to non-believers.
What Tim Keller is advocating is that the contours of Christ’s church be determined by the surrounding culture. According to Eph. 4, Christ “…..gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; (yes even evangelists!) and some, pastors and teachers; for the PERFECTING OF THE SAINTS, for the work of the ministry, for the EDIFYING OF THE BODY OF CHRIST: (vv 11-12)That’s the main purpose of the church. The bible directly contradicts Tim Keller here. Of course non-believers are welcome to attend services and church members should warmly greet them and present to them no unnecessary offense, but the Scriptures in no way advocate cultural customs or peculiarities be the standard by which any local church of our Lord Jesus Christ be established. While we are not to go out of way to make the church unattractive to unbelievers, neither are we instructed to go out of our way to make the church attractive to those who are dead in trespasses and sins, irrespective of culture.
I appluade all Christians who endeavor to get the Gospel message out of the “four walls” into the ccommunities and the world at large. For to long our Churches have become “hidden in the four walls” with the Gospel and do not takeit out to the market place at all. Yet, we are commanded to do so each and individually. One by one, to the homes, work place, neighbors, stores, maket place, where ever we can get a audience. Having said that, to neglect the body of Christ and to make the Corporate setting of our local body a “hot bed” of evangelism soto speak is missing the teaching of the word of God. We are to come together as His bridge and worshp Him in spirit and in truth. Come together and be taught the word of God and its whole counsel. Come together and do “one anothering”, come together and do good deeds to each other, come together and pray together and have meals together and the Table of the Lord together and baptize converts! So our family life must be devoted to the SAVED and building up of their FAITH. Sure, we should have the Gospel to the lost enough a lost person will be saved if God calls, and sure the Gospel message brings to US how we are to grow in sanctification also. We live the Gospel! But, evangelism and missional work is the “going out” to them and then “brininging in the sheaves” if God saves. To be careful here, we must not Idolize the “means” either. The means are God given to use and God ddoes the increase. But it is ALL FOR THE GLORY OF GOD. EVANGELISM MISSION AND SANCTIFYING WORK IS ALL FOR THE GLORY OF GOD! By products of this glory is the salvation of souls and sanctification of the saints! Neither “side” on this issue has a “one upmanship” posture. Both need to understand the unification of all of this and how it is functional Biblically as I have stated. It is not either or, it is BOTH aspects unified working together but maintaining integrity and seeing the necessity of some things being sepeate in order to achieve the purposes anad goals of the word of God as outlined! If we are not careful, we make the body weak by not engaging in many things w should be doing together, and if we are not careful we make the evangelism missional work weak because we get into our “holy huddles” and never come out!!
Pingback: We Need an Explicit Gospel, but Chandler’s Isn’t Perfect | Steak and a Bible
A post born out of time but with the advantage of hindsight:
Keller and Driscoll and others have taken the name “reformed” but deny its substance. They speak of God and His sovereignty and the authority and sufficiency of Scripture but deny these by their practice. “Contextualizing” the Gospel is merely an excuse for loving the world and the things of the world. It is not kneeling to the Lordship of Christ in all of life. And it denies the sovereignty of God in salvation to rely on the wisdom of man. These men are more bad Roman Catholic than good Protestant.