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Mike is the general manager of Q90 FM and co-host of Stand Up For The Truth. His new book, "Are You Really Saved?" Understanding Sin, Grace, Salvation, and Sanctification, published in 2014.

In the World, But Not of the World

Tolbooth TavernWe had a bit of controversy on our Facebook page this week I would like to address this morning.  A local person posted an article about an area church that was reaching out by conducting church services in a local pub.  The person who posted the article hoped to spark some discussion about if this was a good or bad thing.

Well, it certainly sparked some discussion.  Some people thought conducting a church service in a bar was a bad thing while others thought it was perfectly acceptable.  I have not weighed in, but would like to at this time.

A biblical argument can be made for this action when one reads about how Jesus went to Matthew’s home where prostitutes and other sinners were partying.  Jesus went in boldly and proclaimed the gospel, not caring if he was seen with sinners that would cause some to paint him in a negative way.  He boldly proclaimed the gospel to people who were in desperate need of it.

An argument can also be made that a church service should be more about equipping the saints instead of reaching out to people in a public bar.  Some people wonder if we are demeaning the church experience by holding it in a place where public intoxication is a way of life.  Well, for what it is worth, here are my thoughts:

The best place to hold a worship service is the local church, but I see nothing necessarily wrong with taking the message of the gospel to where people are at, even in places where alcoholic beverages are sold.  What is more important than where a church service is held is what message is being delivered?  Are the people attending hearing the pure gospel or a watered down version?  Is the entire gospel of repentance, forgiveness of sins, and a call to pursue holiness and righteousness being taught?  Or are we just telling people that Jesus accepts them right where they are at, with no need to repent and turn away from sin?  What is preached is more important than where it is preached, in my opinion.

Posting articles on social media sites, or discussing them on live radio, is a two-edged sword.  It is good when we discuss important issues that should be discussed—but there is also the tendency to comment on things before we take the time to really think through our response.  But as long as we are open to honest, thoughtful discussion and willing to hear one another out, good things can happen.

There are certain things we cover and discuss that are no brainers—but many others require thoughtful consideration, perhaps challenging us to remove ourselves from our human tendency to pre-judge issues, and think through all points of view before we rush to judgment.  When we come with a humble spirit, thoroughly research issues, and hold them up against the Word of God, we can sharpen and encourage one another, regardless of our beliefs on a particular issue.

That’s not always easy to do and I have certainly fallen into the trap of pre-judging issues at times.  We are human and easily swayed by our emotions.  But in these challenging times we all need to thoughtfully consider issues before we offer knee-jerk reactions.  Things are growing increasingly complicated for American Christianity as she comes under more attack from humanists, a secular culture that seems to hate God more with each passing day, and progressive movements within the church that minimize the Word of God.  We are searching for a biblical way to heed Jesus’ warning to be in the world, but not of the world.  That is not an easy thing to do at times.

When we seek compromise with secular culture, we lose, as our values are compromised.  Reaching in to a culture that hates or ignores God is our calling as Christians, in hopes of reaching the lost.  Finding the proper biblical balance of reaching out to the culture without compromising with it is the difficult challenge we face as the Body of Christ.  Not an easy thing to do, but then Jesus never said it would be easy to follow him.


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9 Responses to “In the World, But Not of the World”

  1. Mr Davis #

    Pacific Garden Mission produces a program called Unshackled. In one program, a Preacher came into Town and he ended up staying in the home of folks who owned a strip club. He asked his host if he could use thier business to share the gospel. Reluctantly the owner agreed being curious about the gospel. It was not discoved by the preacher what manner of business would be his platform until the day he would speak. Being convinced by God this is where he was to preach he stayed.
    So instead of Stripers dancing on a stage that evening the men who came in were treated to the preaching of this stranger. At first they heckled him wanting the girls to come out instead.

    Undaunted the preacher continued proclaiming the depravity and debauchery of all mankind which this audience was accutly aware. Then the preacher started to expalin God's righteousness and His requirement for justice against the unrighteous acts, the sin of men. The wages of sin is death. Again the men in the audience were aggitated and heckled the preacher being cut to their hearts, not wanting to be exposed anymore to the light for thier deeds were evil.

    Seeing the aggitation in the crowd and fearing for the preachers life. The owner ended the preaching for that night. The owner and his wife later that night asked the preacher to finish his message. He picked up where he left off. Though our sins be as scarlet they shall be white as snow and the preacher took this man and his wife into Isaiah 52 and 53 proclaiming that Jesus Christ came for this very end. The Jesus died for the unrighteous so that the righteousness of God may be revealed in them. He came to save and to redeem the lost. The Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all.

    Isaiah 53
    3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. 9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

    When the man and his wife heard these words they believed in Jesus Christ but he was not yet thier Lord. The owner wanted the preacher to preach the following night which the preacher agreed. This time when the crowds grew aggitated he wasn't as concerned. Both the man and his wife were cut to the heart this time seeing for the first time how they were promoting sin through thier business and causing not only men to sin but the women stripers also.

    That evening the man and his wife talked over what they should do. What they would do. They had a business and employees which would be impacted by thier decision. Many lives would be affected but it was clear to them that what they were doing needed to stop. For the first time they prayed ernestly for God to forgive them and help them to know what they should do.

    The girls were let go. After three days the business was closed. They walked away from a life that had made them comfortable but was destroying thier souls. Jesus had become thier Lord and they would together seek how to best serve him.

    After three days the preacher left the man and his wife, praising God for what God had done. Out of all the people he preached to at the club only these two responded to Gospel. While he would have been discouraged by this he understood these two that were lost were found and this indeed was cause to rejoice.

    Be true to the Gospel where ever you find yourself for God has put you there to be salt and light.

    May God strengthen and guide you and give you courage to stand fast in the faith you have recieved. May God bless you all.

    March 26, 2012 at 2:02 AM
  2. Dave B. #

    I have no problems with believers going into a bar/pub with the intent of proclaiming Christ to those there but having a 'service' in that setting is a bit of a bewilderment to me. What might that look like – singing hymns, having communion, a pipe organ, a sermon, pipe organ??

    If God is telling someone(s) to go to where the people are at with what they need, they should definitely 'heed the call' and obey.

    March 24, 2012 at 11:56 AM
  3. People can really over complicate this thing. Why is it when we hear the word "CHURCH" we assume a full liturgy with music, preaching. and more? Really?

    March 23, 2012 at 9:50 AM
  4. Cindy #

    My 2 cents worth: It sounds seeker-friendly to me. I could see someone being led into a place to preach the gospel, but don't think it should be a regular place to hold a service.

    March 23, 2012 at 9:00 AM
  5. Natalie #

    I think that the ways we have tried to reach out to people with the message of God's grace in the past hasn't always worked. Being brought up in a Christian home through the 80's I felt that much of the time it was scare tactics. There are some of these "scare" issues that I still feel as a adult pressured by…like it's a sin to work or even step into a bar..OH PLEASE (sarcastically said)! I'm glad some of the Christian community is getting past some of these issues and really looking for new ways to share the message of God's grace. Who are we to judge? There has been too much judging from Christians in the past and it has HURT PEOPLE. If it's right the Holy Spirit will make a difference in people's lives through this. If it's not right, the church will not continue a program for a very long time that doesn't seem right OR have some sort of results. If we have faith in God and ask God to work through programs like this…then we have to trust His ultimate plan. I give Kudos to Christian radio stations who are willing to have healthy non-judgmental discussions on this.

    March 23, 2012 at 3:02 AM
  6. Lance Ratze #

    Church in a bar. Why not?

    John 4:4-6 which reads, "4 He (Jesus) had to go through Samaria on the way. 5 Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime."

    According to the traditions of the day Jesus shouldn't have been traveling through Samaria, but He did because His Father told him too. That's why He "had to go." I don't believe in doing things just because it might be cool and edgy to do or because someone else is doing it too. However, if God is telling you to do something you better do it. This wasn't an "ought to go" command, but a "got to go" command for Jesus to go to Samaria.

    If God has spoken to Pastor Bob Adams of Radiant Fellowship Church to hold church in a pub then he should be obedient and hold church in a pub, right?. Maybe not everyone who attends Radiant Fellowship should attend a church in a pub service (that's their pastor's call), but I'm sure there are strong enough believers at Radiant that aren't going to be tempted to fall away from God or become drunkards just because they took part in a service in a pub.

    Also, I think that the only negative perceptions will come from the religious in the Church and not the people in the world. Jesus as a Jew ministered to a Samaritan woman. He showed up before she showed up. He broke tradition. He met her on her turf. He didn't debate. He spoke the truth and she believed. Matter fact the whole city eventually believed.

    You go Bob! Do what God has called you to do and don't worry about what others think or say! You don't have to answer to them, but your Father.

    Matthew 7:16, "You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act."

    March 22, 2012 at 3:58 PM
  7. Lorne Elliott #

    I think the issue is not whether the Gospel is preached rightly divided in a tavern, but whether the distractions of the surroundings hinder the reception of the message, along with the negative perception the world will undoubtedly take advantage of, church being held in a tavern. "Let not your good be evil spoke of." This is the proverbial "slippery slope" in that when an exception is made to the rule, the exception becomes the rule. If church is held in taverns, can alcohol be served in church? Do we reach out to the lost as Jesus did in Matthew's home, or do we take up the ways of Matthew's home?

    March 22, 2012 at 10:13 AM